Second and fourth-place finishes mark outstanding tournaments for both
The single-elimination format of the BIB Tournament lends itself to thrilling, win-or-go-home, do-or-die games that are as dramatic as they are anxiety-ridden for players and fans.
It also lends itself to less-than satisfying, short tournament runs for most of the teams that enter it. Sixteen teams entered the 62nd edition of the BIB Tournament. Eight play just once, and only four make it to the final day.
That’s why the Dinwiddie Nationals and Prince George All-Stars can be proud of their performances last week at Shepherd Stadium, even though they ultimately came up short.
Dinwiddie’s second-place finish matches the best ever finish for the county in the BIB Tournament, according to Nationals manager Hunter Spain, and it matches their second-place finish from the 2018 tournament. And while watching someone else celebrate at their expense two years in a row stings, there’s still a lot to be pleased with.
“We had a great team,” Spain said. “I was impressed with the way we played.”
For Prince George this year’s fourth-place finish was the deepest run a Prince George team has made in the annual tournament since 1993.
“I told (the team) that fact, and how proud I was of each of them just to get to this point,” Prince George manager Steven Mozucha said. “I just can’t say enough how proud I am of them.”
Dinwiddie finished the tournament in the championship game, being outplayed by Ettrick in a 16-0 loss, but there were moments to remember and cherish, including their late, come-from-behind 3-2 win over Prince George in the semifinals.
“Just the way everybody played,” Spain said, regarding what he was most proud of during the tournament run. He noted the play of Tucker Ryan, Wesley Townsend and Travis Brockwell, before saying, “All in all, the whole team was superb.”
For Prince George, the finish to the tournament ended with two-straight heartbreaking losses, in consecutive days. There was Dinwiddie’s late win in the semifinals, and then a walk-off, 4-3 loss to Williamsburg in the third-place game Saturday.
“Both of (the losses) were pretty rough,” Mozucha said. “Baseball is a very humbling sport. I try to tell these kids to take something out of each experience, positive or negative.
“I was just so proud of them. Everybody in Prince George is proud of them,” he continued.
While Prince George walked away with the fourth-place trophy, it wasn’t the only hardware they took home with them. They were also awarded the tournament’s Sportsmanship Award, which was handed to Mozucha following the tournament.
“They lost two close games ... a couple of heart-breakers,” tournament director David Wells said, regarding Prince George earning the award. “But those kids, yeah they were disappointed, but you never heard them complaining about anything. The smiles on their faces, the coaches and everything - that means a lot.”
On the field, Mozucha said he was particularly pleased with his pitching staff of Will Rodgers, Logan Heath and Bryce Carmichael. Rodgers and Heath combined for a no-hitter in Prince Geroge’s opener, while Carmichael threw a two-hitter in the loss to Dinwiddie.
“The pitching was key for us to get to this point,” Mozucha said.