TAMPA — The players on the Town 'N Country PONY league 9-year-old Mustang team did their part by advancing to their age bracket's national finals next Friday in Texas.
"They're just excited to play," coach Keith Brackin said. "They're just asking, 'When's our next game, Coach?' Who are we playing next?' "
But because PONY's Mustang-9 division (there is a Mustang 9-10 division also) doesn't receive funding from national for trips, the Town 'N Country team is trying to raise $10,000 to go to the finals in North Highland Hills by the time the tournament begins July 18. The 12-player Town 'N Country team will be the only East Coast representative in the eight-team tournament.
If it sounds like a sudden realization, it is. Brackin said he didn't expect this team to survive the state tournament last week in Royal Palm Beach, but it did, forcing parents and coaches to scramble for funds.
There was never a doubt whether the team would go.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for these kids," Brackin said, but the coach has booked plane tickets and hotel rooms with his personal credit card.
Players have camped out in front of a local Publix grocery store, raising $3,200 with a hat drop, but that's still not halfway to the goal.
Town 'N Country won each of its first three tournament games by at least 13 runs, then won its first two games in Royal Palm Beach to advance through the winner's bracket. In the first of two potential championship-clinching games, Town 'N Country trailed Orlando 7-4 when the game was postponed by rain until the next morning. But Town 'N Country was awarded the title when its opponent didn't show for the morning makeup.
To contribute to the team's cause, call Gian Brackin at (813) 765-2736 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
HRs lift Bloomingdale to Dist. 13 senior title
Nick Martin and Ryan Cellamare each hit three-run homers and Bloomingdale edged South Brandon 8-7 to win the District 13 Little League senior baseball all-star tournament championship at Pinecrest.
Garrett Lentz hit a two-run homer for South Brandon in a losing effort.
10-11 Baseball: Robbie West homered for East Point in an easy 19-2 win over Bloomingdale American.
11-12 Baseball: Zach Hodges' two-run homer turned out to be the difference in Bloomingdale American's 4-3 win over Bloomingdale National, a victory that sent Bloomingdale American to the championship game.
Junior Baseball: Belmont Heights edged North Brandon 9-8 to advance to the championship game.
Thursday's District 13
All-Star baseball tournament schedule
(at North Brandon)
East Point vs. Bloomingdale American
Bloomingdale American vs. South Brandon American
South Brandon American vs. Belmont Heights