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Critters win state again, return to world series

[07/17/01] STARKVILLE Culkin’s Judd Mims delivered the knockout punch, an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning, to clinch the Freshman 12 state title in Starkville, downing Grenada 14-4 on Monday afternoon.

After going 4-0 in the district tournament, the Critters also swept through the state tournament undefeated, downing Southaven, 11-1, Louisville, 11-0, Eupora, 10-0 and Crestwood, 10-4, before knocking off Grenada to advance to the Freshman 12 World Series in Oak Grove, which begins on Saturday.

“Our kids played wonderful all tournament long and our pitching was outstanding,” said Culkin head coach Bubba Mims, who guided the team to the 11-year-olds’ state title and a sixth-place finish in the world series last year. “We had four pitchers and rotated them all to avoid burnout and to keep the arms fresh. Cole Smith started every game and did a great job for us.

“Tyler (Wells) and Michael (Busby) led us at the plate while Wells also did a great job behind the plate. Most of the teams here stole at will but Wells threw a lot out and kept the runners in check for the whole tournament.”

Grenada jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first as Oliver Hughes had an RBI groundout to score Alvin Sykes, who drew a one-out walk.

Grenada threatened in the second inning with runners at first and second but was denied as Culkin’s Cody Ferguson threw out a runner at the plate for the third out.

Culkin responded with three runs in the bottom of the second inning as Eric Richards and Smith had RBI singles. Kyle Calhoun also had a RBI groundout as Spencer Curney, Tyler Wells and Richards plated the runs in the frame to give the Critters a 3-1 lead after two innings.

Grenada answered with two runs in the third to tie it at 3-3. James Berry III highlighted the inning with a clutch, two-run double to plate Jonathan Liddell and McKinney.

The Critters tacked on three more runs in the third inning to take the lead for good. Hayden Hales and Curney started the frame with back-to-back singles. Hales later scored on an RBI fielder’s choice by Wells. Curney scored on an error by the Grenada shortstop while Wells came home following another throwing error, giving Culkin a 6-3 advantage after three innings.

After Grenada cut the lead to 6-4 in the fourth, the Critters built a comfortable lead with an eight-run explosion, giving the Critters a 12-4 lead.

Culkin pounded out five hits in the frame, highlighted by two-run doubles from Wells and Smith. Ferguson also had an RBI single in the inning while Busby and Hales added base hits to get the rally going.

Culkin 10-run-ruled Grenada with a two-run, fifth-inning. Wells had an RBI groundout before Mims came through with the game-winning hit and RBI.

For the tournament, Hales was 11-of-15 and contributed key hits in the championship game, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Smith also had two hits with three RBIs while Wells had a couple of hits with four RBIS and four runs scored.

Both Grenada and Culkin advanced to the World Series that is schedule for July 21-24 at Oak Grove.

The Culkin Rockers finished second in the 13-year-olds’ state tournament in Clinton, losing to Starkville, 7-4. They will play in the Dizzy Dean world series in Southaven starting July 28.