Better trip ahead: Mid-County feeling ‘target’ on way to Wash. state

Published 9:05 pm Monday, July 24, 2017

Kody Kolb has never been to the state of Washington, but next week, he’s going.

“I really want this plane flight,” he said, recalling the goal of Mid-County Senior Babe Ruth’s recent run through the Babe Ruth Southwest Regional.

The flight to central Washington that Mid-County will take on Aug. 3 might be less exhausting than the 12-hour journey the Nederland-based team made to the Texas Panhandle town of Dumas for the regional. The time length was probably the only thing Mid-County coach Ben Rogers didn’t enjoy about that road trip.

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But five years after Mid-County’s last World Series run, it was rewarding.

“It was a long time coming,” Rogers said. “They’ve been kicking our butts for a while.”

“They” were a team from Mobile County, Alabama, that’s won seven World Series since 2000 and beat Mid-County for the 2013 title in Andalusia, Alabama. But Mid-County ended Mobile County’s latest reign last Tuesday with a 17-3 win to complete a 4-0 tournament run. Mid-County won the previous meeting 8-3 to reach the final.

“Every year, we have to play them; it’s kind of a rivalry against them,” said Kolb, a Nederland graduate heading to the University of the Southwest in New Mexico. “… We did everything we needed to do.

It was all part of a 55-9 shellacking Mid-County put on its opponents in four games, and that could be turning some heads across the entire Babe Ruth League.

“We’re going to walk into this tournament and other teams are going to look at us because we beat Alabama,” second baseman Logan LeJeune said. “It really just puts a target on our back and shows we need to work harder.”

LeJeune was named MVP of the Southwest Regional, continuing the summer of a lifetime that began with Port Neches-Groves’ first state baseball title. The soon-to-be Lamar Cardinal went 8 for 14 in Dumas.

“I’m just blessed,” LeJeune said. “God gave me the ability to do all these things. I’m just trying to take advantage of it and work hard. Just really getting ready for Lamar, but this team is a great group of guys and we just love to win.”

Rogers this has been Mid-County’s year to return to the World Series because of the maturity of the team. While the age range is 16 to 18, many of them will soon compete collegiately while a few others already have a year of experience at that level.

“These guys are older, mature guys,” Rogers said. “A lot of these were on the team last year when Alabama beat them. They just refused to get beat again.”

Jacob Vaughan, Rogers pointed out, has produced as the 9-hole hitter, much the same way he did for PNG during the 5A playoffs.

“We played well,” Rogers said. “We hit well, pitched well, the bottom of the order got on base, and we made things happen.”

The schedule for the World Series in Ephrata — located at the center of the path between Seattle and Spokane off Interstate 90 — was released Monday, and Rogers said it works in Mid-County’s favor.

“We’ve got two games, we’re off one [day] and we have two more, so we can throw 1 and 2 [the Nos. 1 and 2 pitchers in Mid-County’s rotation], have a day off, throw 3, and hopefully we’ll be sitting all right in the pool to where when we go to single-elimination, we’ll have 1 and 2 ready to go,” Rogers said.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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