The Southbelt squad from Houston, Texas, has had to weather a lot of adversity to reach the Palomino World Series.
``We've had some adversity this year,' said Southbelt coach Tommy Bischoff. ``A lot of our players have been playing American Legion ball along with Palomino, so it's been tough to find practice time. Also, we lost our first game in the regional tournament, so we had to come up through the losers' bracket. It's made us a tougher ballclub.'Southbelt relied on a four-hit shutout by Byron Doyle to defeat S&W Motor Lines, the area host team, 4-0 Wednesday in a first-round game at Stoner-White Stadium.
Southbelt opened the scoring in the top of the second. With two outs, S&W starting pitcher Brad Oakley walked Keith Harrison and left fielder Eric Silvas followed with a double just inside the left-field line. S&W's Joe Hobbs bobbled the ball in left, allowing Harrison to score.
Later that inning, Jeff Brannen's foul tip hit S&W catcher Danny Schneider on the inside of the right kneecap. Schneider, a Grimsley graduate who is UNCG's first baseball recruit, was forced to leave the game.
The visitors did not threaten again until the seventh. Harrison led off with a single up the middle and Oakley walked Silvas, putting runners on first and second.
Both runners advanced on Brannen's sacrifice bunt and shortstop Rey Trevino, the ninth hitter in Southbelt's batting order, hit a line drive double which scored Harrison and Silvas. Trevino advanced to third on Mike Evans' groundout and scored on a wild pitch by Oakley.
S&W mounted its only threat in the bottom of the seventh, putting runners on second and third before Tico Hamphill flied out to end the game.
Oakley pitched a solid game despite taking the loss. He allowed just one hit before the seventh inning and gave up three hits overall.
Doyle did not let a runner past first base until the seventh. Despite S&W's outstanding team speed, it did not steal a base and was the victim of two Doyle pickoffs.
``We got an outstanding pitching performance from Byron Doyle, outstanding defense, and timely hitting,' said Bischoff. ``We did not hit as well as we are capable of hitting, however.
``I think we've got as good a chance as anybody of winning this tournament. We've been under pressure to play and win, and we've done that, so I feel good about our chances.'
In the afternoon game, Joliet, Ill., scored in the bottom of the sixth to beat Lakeside, Hawaii, 4-3 and Cidras, Puerto Rico, edged GAPCO 3-2 in the nightcap.
In today's action, Weirton, W.Va., takes on Citrus Heights, Calif., at 3 p.m. Lakeside meets Southbelt at 5:30 and Joliet faces S&W at 8 p.m.