HAMMOND | It's a long way to Hammond from El Dorado, Ark., and a long way back.
At least the El Dorado All Stars will be flying back home with their heads held a little higher.
Going into its final pool-play game Monday night against Quincy, Mass., the team had a 0-3 record and was already eliminated from the single-elimination championship bracket. The team had nothing to lose and nothing to gain ... or almost nothing to gain.
"Yeah, we were playing for a little pride," said El Dorado manager Scot Perry after his team rallied in its final at-bat and eventually defeated Quincy 4-3.
"We wanted to leave on a high note, and our boys managed to accomplish that," Perry said.
For El Dorado, the World Series almost started on a high note. The team threatened to score the first runs of the tournament on Friday when it loaded the bases with no outs against the Honolulu Saints.
But Saints starter Caleb Markwith struck out the next three hitters in order, and it was all down hill from there for El Dorado, which ended up losing 8-1 to Honolulu before being drubbed in order against South Lexington, Ken. (17-4) and Crown Point (12-0) in games that didn't go the distance.
"Those teams were playing great baseball and playing great defense, and we didn't," Perry said. "It is what it is, and we're not going to make excuses.
"We just told our guys to go out and enjoy playing baseball this final game."
The game looked as if it was going to be more of the same for El Dorado as Quincy shortstop Martin McCormack hit a two-run homer in the first inning.
El Dorado starter Jacob Boshears hit his second homer of the tourney with a solo shot in the fourth inning to make the score 2-1. Then in El Dorado's final at-bat in the sixth, Hunter Stringer hit a clutch two-RBI single as part of a three-run rally to put his team up, 4-2.
Derek Jobe came in to relieve starter Boshears in the sixth inning helping El Dorado hold on to win.
In a tournament that has seen prodigious home runs, spectacular doubleplays and polar bears in August (one was sighted during "Mascot Day"), Jobe recorded the World Series' first save.
El Dorado is a traditional youth all-star team put together after its league season concluded. Its road to Hammond started with consecutive second-place showings in district and state tournaments before its bats came alive to win the Southwest Regional.
"We ended up showing that we belonged here after some people were probably doubting that," Perry said. "I'm proud of these boys."
GIFTS FROM THE ISLANDS: The Honolulu Saints did nothing to help alleviate the ongoing girth-vs.-space problem in the HOYS Complex press box when it sent up a bucket of Hawaiian Host chocolate covered macadamia nuts.
From a team that calls its "The Saints," these gifts were sinfully delicious. If they ever catch on in the mainland, the "fat police" will likely try to confiscate them.