The North Myrtle Beach Parks and Recreation Department 13-14 All-Star team finished the SC Dixie Youth Championship Tournament in third place last week in Bluffton. The all-stars were one win away from playing in the championship when they lost to St. George 4-2.
North Myrtle Beach opened tournament play with a 9-4 victory over Bluffton. They then lost to St. George by a 13-3 score in game two but came back strong to beat Chester 8-7 and Marion 7-5 in the loser’s bracket competition in the double elimination tournament.
That set up a rematch with St. George and the loss that knocked NMB out of the tournament but earned them third place in the twelve- team event. Moncks Corner won the tournament as they finished undefeated.
NMB coach Heath Brady was proud of his team’s finish. “I know people think about how hard it is for these kids to lose but they were a fantastic group. They played hard in every game and losses in baseball happen but they didn’t let it get to them. I saw the happiness and gratitude of these kids because of how they came together as a team,” Brady said.
“The loss to St. George was one of two losses we had over two years that I remember because of how we played. St. George beat us 13-3 earlier in the tournament but our boys played really hard to keep it close and gave us a chance. If we could have won then we would have gone into the championship game. I’m proud of our third place finish,” Brady said.
Coach Brady stated that this was his seventh year coaching the 13-14 year-old age group. “Sometimes the coach has a child on the team and he coaches the all-stars but I coach this age because I feel the need to give back my time to help these kids grow, not only in the game of baseball, but also because they have so much to learn in life. I want to be more than just a coach,” Brady said.
Brady also wanted to thank the parents of his team. “The parents really make it all happen. They travel with the team, drive long distances, stay and watch the games and support all the kids. That is a lot of work and they are truly appreciated for their help,” Brady said.
It was another banner year for North Myrtle Beach All-Star teams. “ We ended up 8-2 overall. We won a tough district tournament undefeated in five games and then we finished 3-2 at the state. We have some talented kids. The games at Bluffton were televised and their play-by-play announcer singled out three of our players. He said that pitcher Ethan Matthews was the most confident pitcher he had seen at his age. He also singled out Israel May and Ethan Allen for their on base percentage and batting average in the tournament. Those boys are projected to be a big part of our high school baseball program and I wouldn’t be surprised to see us challenge for a state championship with that kind of talent,” Brady said.
Brady ended his comments with thoughts about no longer being with his team. “When you are with these boys so much you turn into a family. When I woke up last Friday I realized that there was no more baseball and I wasn’t in touch with the kids and their families any more. That was almost deflating for me,” Brady concluded.
The third place finish by the 13-14 year-old team concludes a remarkable year for North Myrtle Beach. Matt Gibbons, superintendent of Recreation/Sports Tourism for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, also was proud of all teams. “ We are extremely proud of all of our all-star teams. This year we have had unprecedented success for North Myrtle Beach with four teams advancing to their respective state tournaments. All-stars requires a tremendous amount of dedication from our players, coaches and parents. Regardless of the outcome on the field, all of our All-Star teams have been great representatives of the North Myrtle Beach community,” Gibbons said.