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Machine Pitch All-Stars win states

The 2018 Virginia Youth Baseball Machine Pitch State Championship trophy will have Lunenburg County for a home. The boys making up the Lunenburg County Youth Baseball League (LCYBL) Machine Pitch All-Star team this year faced down the challenge posed Wednesday in South Hill by the Charlotte County All-Star team to win 7-3, remain undefeated, claim the state championship and clinch a berth in the World Series.

“I’m just proud of them,” Lunenburg All-Star Manager Brian Nowlin said of his players. “… These kids, they’re really tough kids, and they work hard, they listen, and at this age, sometimes that’s hard to find. You get some kids with talent, but at this age, they’re kind of rambunctious, and this group really pays attention and listens and does what you ask of them, so it’s pretty neat.”

Nowlin was on a similarly successful team at the Machine Pitch age level back in 1986, “so it’s an experience that I’m glad they get to have, and it’s something you’ll never forget,” he said. To get to the 2018 Dixie Youth Baseball AA Machine Pitch World Series in Lumberton, North Carolina, the LCYBL All-Stars won five more games during their state tourney run.

On July 7, they routed Clarksville 19-1. The next day they topped the host team, South Hill, 13-3. Lunenburg outlasted Charlotte 15-9 on July 9 and advanced to the championship round with a 16-2 defeat of Dinwiddie American on July 10.

The next day the LCYBL boys faced Charlotte for the third time this summer. Charlotte had become progressively more challenging after falling 13-1 to Lunenburg in the district tourney. Halfway through the July 11 championship contest, Charlotte led 3-0.

It was reminiscent of the adversity the LCYBL All-Stars faced in the district final when Blackstone jumped out to an early lead, and Nowlin reminded them of this.

“I said, ‘Look, we were in the same situation in the (district) championship at home, and you came back, so let’s go,’” he recalled after the game. “I think it was a little more stuff going on tonight. We had some announcing and music, and people were kind of into it, so I think it was a little bit overwhelming at first, but they got everything together and did great.”

The Lunenburg team stands as another example that defense wins championships, as all 12 players contributed.

“I really think we hit good, but sometimes hitting doesn’t come around, obviously, and the fact that our defense was good the whole time kind of carried us through,” Nowlin said.

A variety of fundraisers to help with the World Series trip are set for Saturday at Neblett Field, starting at 9 a.m. The team will be washing cars for donations, and there will also be a bake sale, lemonade stand and raffles.

Lunenburg, representing Virginia, will open its World Series run Saturday, July 28, at 10:30 a.m. against Tennessee.