The Smyrna Cardinals, a dominant team all season, held off the Dragons team to win 15-9 in the York Parks and Recreation Department’s Dixie Boys tournament championship game at Optimist Park.
Though the Cardinals assumed an early lead in the tournament, the Dragons stayed within striking distance.
“We had a lot of aggressive base running tonight,” Smyrna head coach Shane Clayton said after receiving handshakes from Cardinal supporters.
Clayton said he wasn’t surprised to see the Smyrna hitters come alive in the Dixie Boys championship game. “Our kids hit the ball good tonight and we’ve hit the ball all year,” he said.
In assessing a successful season for the Cardinals, Clayton says the credit goes to the players for their commitment.
“We’ve got a great bunch of kids,” he said. “Just about everyone on our team has been an all-star at some time or another.”
Added Clayton: “When you’ve had kids together since they were 8 years old coming all the way up, it’s not too hard to coach them. They are a great group of kids and I am proud of them. It is an honor for me to be part of them.”
Clayton attributes much of the team’s success to playing at a high level from the beginning of the season to the end.
“This year, we pretty much beat all our opponents by at least 10 runs,” he said. “We had a real good time this year. I am real pleased.”
However, Clayton also lauded the Cardinals’ opponent for laying it on the line during the intense tournament title game.
“The Dragons played well and presented a challenge,” he said. “Their pitcher, Dillon Benfield, did a good job on the mound for their team.”
Clayton said there are reasons the Smyrna team has maintained its success through the years.
“It makes a difference when you have that kind of talent and they stay together year after year,” he said. “We’re unlike York, who has to choose players through the draft each season.”
Clayton said Hickory Grove, Sharon and Smyrna kids grow up together and compete together along the way.
“If we ain’t taught them how to bat by the time they’re 14 years old, something’s wrong with the coaching,” said the Cardinals head coach.
Clayton said western York County residents “are definitely known for our baseball. We have a good group of boys, and family, too, a lot of good parents.”
Seth Smart was the pitcher for the Cardinals in relief of Colby Clayton.
Dragons head coach Everett Whitesides lauded the players for responding during a rebuilding season.
“We had a young team with only three returning from last year,” he said. “Through the season, we had some close wins and a few tough losses.”
Whitesides said the Dragons were led by strong pitching from Josh McSwain, Benfield and Alan Whitesides.
“Adam Whitesides, Alan Whitesides, Daniel Herlan and Jack Adkins were the leading hitters during the playoffs,” Whitesides said.
Other team members were Garrett Kness, Christopher Anderson, Clay Crowe, Kamran Howard, Hayden Martin and Brian Phillips.
“We finished second in the regular season and second in the playoffs,” said Whitesides. “I am proud of each and every player for what they accomplished this year.”
He also thanked the team sponsors this season – Sox and Freeman Tree Service, Family Trust Credit Union and Window Makeovers for their support throughout the season.