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Teams from both near and far find stiff competition

By Brian Paglia

bpaglia@news-daily.com

By the end of the second round of the AABC Roberto Clemente World Series, half of the games had been decided by less than four runs.

That was just one sign that coaches used to illustrate the impressive quality of baseball they've encountered from the 7- and 8-year-old ballplayers at the Roberto Clemente World Series at Richard Craig Park in McDonough.

"It's been pretty competitive," Southern California Diablos coach Carlos Maldonado said. "All the teams are tough. It's the little errors here and there that basically decide the games."

Errors are usually too frequent in baseball games played by 7- and 8-year-olds, players still honing their skills.

But at this level, with the best teams in the American Amateur Baseball Congress together in McDonough, that hasn't been the case.

"There's no weak teams here," McDonough Elite Gamers Red coach Brian Little said. "Everyone of them are solid.

"All of them are solid defensively. They've got good pitching. They all put the bat on the ball. They're all pretty equal, to be honest, as evidenced by the scores."

Indeed, the Elite Gamers Red began Friday morning with a close 8-6 loss to the Carolina Tigers from Puerto Rico. As in higher levels of baseball, it was the little things of the game that plagued them, like leaving 12 runners on base.

The McDonough OTC Scrappers faced the Cheshire Reds from Connecticut and Gresham Park Longhorns of Decatur, two teams Scrappers coach K.J. Thomas thinks are the best of the best here.

Besides his Scrappers, of course.

"From what I've seen," he said, "I believe - besides us - they're two of the better teams in this."