Albany Dizzy Dean All-Star first baseman Temirez Williams stretches to record an out in Monday’s Dizzy Dean World Series game. Williams and his 8-year-old teammates are two wins from a World Series championship. (Photo: Mike Wendland)
SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — The camera lights came on for the first time Monday afternoon for the Albany 8-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Stars.
They didn’t flinch.
Playing on their first live webcast in the Dizzy Dean World Series, the Albany All-Stars came from behind to beat the Harrison (Tenn.) Titans, 10-9, in the quarterfinals and advanced to today’s Final 4. Both semifinal games and the championship game — which will all be played today in Southaven, Miss., starting at 1 p.m. — will air live online at ddlivestream.com.
Albany takes a 7-0 record into the semifinals, and head coach Scott Wendland said it would be an honor to win a World Series title in Albany’s first year as a member of Dizzy Dean Baseball.
“It would mean the world,” Wendland said. “We have been overwhelmed and humbled by the amount of support we have gotten from everybody back home and the people who financially made it possible for us to make this trip.
“It’s been unbelievable. We weren’t sure what to expect when we came over here. We knew we had a good team, and they have gelled together and are playing good defense. We are one of the best defensive teams in the whole tournament, and that’s kept us in every game.”
Albany was one of 38 teams in the 8-year-old bracket and is now one of four remaining after knocking out a Harrison team that was 35-1 entering the quarterfinals. Albany has won three games by a single run, including Monday afternoon when they fell behind 6-2 before battling back with seven runs in the second inning.
Their undefeated run in the coach-pitch tournament has been complemented by some sightseeing in Memphis, Tenn. — including a team trip to a Triple-A Memphis Redbirds game where they met the players and were introduced on the field — but Wendland said his team has handled the spotlight.
“They have done great. They had to battle back in some games, and that tested their fortitude,” Wendland said. “They’ve learned some great life lessons about getting down and needing to battle through it.”
Team members for Albany, which won a state championship to qualify for the week-long World Series, include Parks Cohen, Daylor Drawdy, Braylon Green, Alex Harris, Anderson Hinds, Waylon Marbury, Zachary Murray, Hayden Payne, Jacob Wendland, Lan Wiggins, Temirez Williams and Quindon Wright. Joining Wendland on the coaching staff are Jason Wiggins, Michael Cohen and Temirez Williams.
“Win or lose (today) it’s been a successful trip, and it’s been a pleasure to be here,” Wendland said. “It’s been a great ride for us. Win or lose, it’s been a remarkable season.”
The Albany 12-year-old and 10-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Star teams also won state titles and advanced to the World Series in Southaven. The 12-year-olds were eliminated Monday in the quarterfinals and finished sixth out of 16 teams.
“We ran into teams that were pulling from multiple counties,” Albany 12-year-old coach Mitch Summerell said. “We came over here true-blue with what we had. We had 55 kids in our league, and we brought over 11 of them and made it all the way to the Elite 8. I told the kids that they had nothing in the world to be ashamed of.”
The 10-year-old Albany team won its first game of the tournament before losing two straight and dropping into the consolation bracket, where it was still alive late Monday.