By Doug Gorman
It's becoming a summer tradition, and starting tonight at Richard Craig Park in McDonough, the Roberto Clemente (7-8-year-old) AABC World Series returns to the Southern Crescent.
It's the fourth year in a row McDonough has played host to the season-ending baseball tournament.
The event doesn't appear to be leaving town any time soon as McDonough has been awarded the Clemente World Series for the next three years.
"I think it's great," said Dwane Williams, one of the tournament officials. "To see the smiles on the kids faces makes it worth it."
Teams gathered on the square Wednesday afternoon in McDonough for a welcoming session. Mayor Richard Craig addressed the teams and players munched on hot dogs and sodas and exchanged pleasantries before heading to a local bowling alley for a night of fun.
Eight teams will compete for the title in the double-elimination event, including the McDonough Phillies and the McDonough Nitro.
Four games highlight today's first round with the Las Cruces, N.M. Trojans playing the Chesire, Conn. Reds at 5:30 p.m. on field 1 and the Fayetteville Bulldogs playing the Nitro at 6 p.m. on field 2.
First-day contests continue with the Puerto Rico Flores playing the Knoxville Stars and 7:30 p.m. on field 1 and the McDonough Phillies playing Valley Jig Grinding from Illinois at 8 p.m. on field 2.
Seven games are on tap Friday starting at 9:30 a.m. A winners bracket game will round out Friday's play at 8 p.m.
Games are set for 10 and noon on Saturday. The championship is set for 6 p.m. A second game in the championship round could be played on Sunday, if needed.
Before beginning play tonight, teams will gather at Richard Craig Park for a skills contest at 10 a.m. Baseball players will compete in a home run derby, an infield skills contest and an outfield skills contest.
Admission to the contest is $5 per round or $20 for a tournament pass.