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They’re Champions!

Elite Gamers honored by City of McDonough

Special Photos
Jubilant members of the Elite Gamers team swarmed a baseball field in McDonough, after winning the Roberto Clemente World Series.

Special Photos Jubilant members of the Elite Gamers team swarmed a baseball field in McDonough, after winning the Roberto Clemente World Series.

Steve Long, coach of the McDonough Elite Gamers baseball team, said he is proud of what his group of 8-year-old boys accomplished when they won the Roberto Clemente World Series.

“We played about 90 baseball games, and to end it like that was awesome for our kids, our parents and for the city,” said Long. “We are the first team from McDonough to win it since 2006.”

The team will also serve as the grand marshals of the 2011 City of McDonough Christmas Parade, in December, according to McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland. He recognized the team during a recent city council meeting.

The double-elimination tournament was held in McDonough. It is sponsored, each year, by the American Amateur Baseball Congress. It is named after the late Pittsburgh Pirate Hall of Fame outfielder, and featured games at Richard Craig Park.

The Elite Gamers of McDonough served as the host team. The Georgia Yard Dogs, from Atlanta, also represented the state. Other teams hailed from Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Connecticut and Puerto Rico.

The 12 members of the Elite Gamers won five games in the tournament on their way to becoming the 2011 champions. Coach Long said his team worked hard to achieve victory.

“To meet that goal, I can’t put it into words,” he said. “But, we did it, and it’s an awesome feeling. The commitment and sacrifices that they put into their practices ... it’s great to see their hard work pay off for them.”

Two team members were singled out for their respective performances during the tournament. Reed Proctor was named the Most Valuable Player in the series. As a pitcher, Proctor hurled six shutout innings. He excelled offensively as well, with a .568 batting average, 18 runs batted in, and two home runs over five games, Coach Long said.

“In one ballgame, he went 4-for-4, with a grand slam,” the coach added.

Second baseman, Legend Doggett, received a Batting Award for his performance. He had a .687 batting average during five games in the series, with 10 RBIs, 14 runs scored, and one homerun.

Coach Long also expressed pride in the athletic abilities of another Elite Gamer — his son, Chase. He said Chase Long made a defensive play, which secured a win for his team.

“It was bases loaded with two outs, and the ball was hit to him,” Coach Long said. “It was really an uncatchable ball. It tipped off the edge of his glove, and landed right behind him. He grabbed it, and dove to touch first base to end the game.”

James Ballard was an assistant coach with the team, which included his son, Bryce. Coach Ballard said being touted by Mayor Copeland and the McDonough City Council, is a moment he and his team members will not soon forget.

“It’s one of the greatest feelings that I’ve experienced in baseball, for sure,” he said. “It was an awesome experience.”

Chad Scroggins, whose son, Bray, played on the team, was also an assistant coach. Winning the Robert Clemente World Series, Chad Scroggins said, is a dream come true for the group.

“Living in McDonough, this has always been the tournament that we earmarked ever since the kids started playing baseball,” he said. “It’s a very big deal.”

He added that members of a team who won the 2005 Roberto Clemente World Series, came to this year’s tournament to root for the Elite Gamers.

“For them to come back six years later, and support another team, I think that was pretty special,” Scroggins said.