For the second year in a row, the Irmo Little League Majors are headed to the Southeastern Regional in Warner Robins, Ga.
Beginning Friday, the Irmo squad will represent South Carolina in a bid for a slot in the Little League World Series.
“Most of these boys have been playing together for several years now,” said John Ecton, one of the team’s coaches. “The commitment they have made to play baseball and at such high level will not only bring recognition to South Carolina but, more importantly, to the entire community. I am very proud of these young boys.”
A dozen 12-year-olds — Trad Beatty, Jake Benoit, Reece Cormier, Kyle Ecton, Jacquez Geter, Ward Hacklen, Deric Hanko, Jaxon Jones, Drew Smith, Garett Summers, Ricky Viloria and Jacob Wright — won the Little League State Championship in Kingstree in July to earn a spot in the regional.
“It’s really been neat. We have one kid, Trad Beatty, who was on last year’s team. The rest of those guys were 11-years old. and we got to watch it and kind of feel it through them. And it was no secret that that’s what these kids were going to try to do,” said Darren Jones, an assistant coach.
“Wearing the South Carolina uniform is huge,” Jones said. “It is really neat. South Carolina has got a very strong tradition in baseball, and the boys have seen that. Playing for South Carolina is big.”
The Irmo squad, which calls Friarsgate Park home, will join championship teams from seven other states in the pool-play tournament.
Irmo’s squad will take on West Virginia on Friday at 10 a.m., Virginia on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Tennessee on Monday at 1 p.m. The squad must win two of the three games to advance to the single elimination round which begins Aug. 8 and will be broadcast on ESPN 2.
“It’s pretty much a dream come true,” said Jacob Wright, a left-handed pitcher. “I’m a little bit nervous because the whole country can watch our every move. Last year’s team was a very good team, and they did not win a game. We’re a very good team, too, and we are going to give it our best.”
The Southeastern Regional champion will be determined on Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. on ESPN.