Aiken 12U All-Stars advance to regional

Submitted photo Carson Cockrell hit two home runs and recorded 15 strikeouts in the Aiken 12U All-Star's 9-1 win over Mount Pleasant Saturday.

GAFFNEY ­— On Sunday, the Aiken 12U All-Star baseball team played for the South Carolina State Championship in the Babe Ruth – Cal Ripken Baseball League. Although the Aiken boys finished the weekend as the runner-up following a loss to Goose Creek, they still qualified to the play in the Regional Championship by advancing to the championship. The regional will be held from July 25-28 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The Aiken All-Stars opened the tournament Thursday with a 7-2 win over the squad from Chesnee. That was followed by a defensive struggle against a formidable foe from Mount Pleasant. In spite of a strong showing on the mound from lefty Carson Cockrell and an early 4-1 lead, Mount Pleasant rallied for a 5-4 win in the game delayed by lightning.

That sent Aiken into the losers’ bracket, and a second game Friday against Polk County. It turned out to be a wild game that was tied 12-all after five innings. That was when Dalton Lawless blasted a towering three-run homer, sending Aiken to an 18-12 victory that didn’t end until close to midnight because of more weather delays.

Aiken had a quick turnaround, returning to the diamond at 10 a.m. on Saturday with a game against Gaffney, the host team. Aiken got a strong showing from the pitching combination of Blake McCollum and Lawless, who also paced the offense along with Will Griswold with both Aiken boys blasting home runs in the 8-4 win.

Aiken’s second game on Saturday was a rematch with Mount Pleasant. With Cockrell again on the mound, Aiken gave him an early lead with four runs in the first inning. The scoring attack was led by home runs from Lawless, Griswold, Lee Angerman and Cockrell – who went deep twice in the win. That set up Sunday’s showdown against Goose Creek for the championship. Playing in only its third game of the tournament, the well-rested Goose Creek team prevailed 7-2 over Aiken, which played its sixth game of the tournament. Aiken was led by a double and a home run by Griswold, but Aiken left seven runners in scoring position.

Members of the Aiken 12U All-Stars include Angerman, Connor Buchanan, Cockrell, Holdren Drake, Griswold, Lawless, Alex Ledbetter, Blake McCollum, Tate Molony, Sebastian O’Banion, Levi Shackleton and Chris Teelon. The team is led by head coach Jason McCollum and assistant coaches Kevin Buchanan, Carson Cockrell, Trey Ledbetter and Larry Teelon.

The team will work this week to help offset the cost of the trip to Florida. Individuals and businesses willing to make a tax-deductible donation to the team may contact Jason McCollum at 803-507-5115 or Kevin Buchanan at 803-617-9558.