Younger nucleus leads District 1 into BLBWS

Younger nucleus leads District 1 into BLBWS

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Younger nucleus leads District 1 into BLBWS

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The Big League Baseball World Series will be held in Easley for a 12th consecutive year next month, so it’s only fitting that the 2012 host team has a strong local flavor — seven of the team’s 17 players are from Pickens County.

Easley High boasts the biggest local contingent, with four players selected to the squad. Two players from Pickens High made the team, which was announced last week, and another member of the team is from Daniel.

Wren and Palmetto high schools each contributed three players to the team, which comprises 16- to 18-year-old players from Pickens, Anderson and Oconee counties.

Easley standout Tucker Burgess typifies the youthfulness of this year’s team — he’s one of 13 players on the team who would be eligible to play for the host team against next year.

“I’ve played with and against a lot of these guys for a long time,” Burgess said. “The competition level has always been good.”

Burgess, a right-handed pitcher and rising senior at Easley, last season helped the Green Wave to a 28-3 record, the region title and the Upper State championship finale before they lost to Byrnes.

A 6-foot-4, 180-pounder who committed to Clemson during his sophomore year, Burgess will be joined on the Big League team by three Green Wave teammates — Will Hartsell, Stephen McKnight and Will Porter.

All of them are looking forward to their first BLBWS experience.

“I’ve been out there (watching) pretty much every year,” Burgess said. “I like the whole atmosphere. It’s great to see so many people come out and support Easley and baseball.”

The host team, which represents South Carolina District 1, has won four world championships — in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007.

Pickens High’s representatives are Matthew Eubanks, a right-handed pitcher who also plays first and third base, and Beau Strickland, a catcher, first baseman and right-handed pitcher who earned All-State honors last season.

Daniel’s Daniel Nations, a pitcher and outfielder who is bound for Newberry College, is expected to join Burgess as one of the top pitchers in District 1’s rotation.

“We have a lot of guys who can play multiple positions, and that’s going to be the key to our team this year,” said Gregg Powell, who will be managing District 1 for the 10th year.

Wren High will be represented by Ereven Roper, Chase Day and Justin Allen, while Palmetto is providing Trey Hayes, Jesse Kellett and Tanner Lollis. Hayes and Allen are the only two returnees off last year’s team, which went 4-0 in pool play before losing to eventual world champion South Carolina District 7 of Greenville in the semifinals.

This year’s BLBWS is set for July 25-Aug. 1 at Easley’s J.B. “Red” Owens Complex. The championship will be televised live by ESPN at 8 p.m. on Aug. 1.

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