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Little League victory thrills fans in Greenville

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Greenville fans celebrate at Tie Breakers Sports Bar during the Little League World Series game against Texas on Aug. 23, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The sound of 100 Greenville Little League fans celebrating North State’s seventh inning win is deafening, especially when they are all inside the same restaurant.

Tie Breakers Sports Bar and Grill was standing room only Wednesday night as families and friends of the players, as well as fans just out supporting team, gathered to watch the Southeast Region champions from Greenville advance to the U.S. championship game in the Little League World Series.

The Greenville team did it with with a 2-1 win over the Southwest representative from Lufkin, Texas, at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pa.

The fans watched what turned out to be a nail-biting pitching duel on the restaurant’s 29 screens. Due to heavy storms Wednesday night, reception for the restaurant’s satellite service was interrupted at times, but staff was able to stream the game over the internet on one screen throughout the night.

The restaurant erupted with celebration as relief pitcher Matthew Matthijs strike out 12 Lufkin batters and the North State team won in extra innings with a bases-loaded run by Cash Daniels-Moye. Children, many who played with and against members of North State team during the regular season, gathered in the front to watch the game on the large projector screen.

Restaurant manager Ben Wyche said 10 percent of the proceeds from the night are going to the families of the team to help defray expenses incurred from weeks of traveling. He said that since the team headed to Pennsylvania the restaurant has been giving out 10 percent of their daily profits to the team.

Wyche said the families had been traveling with their children for weeks now, and many have had to choose between working and being their with their children. Because of that and the cost of staying out of state, the financial support is really helpful, he said.

“As long as their out there winning, as long as there out there traveling, we’re going to be giving them 10 percent,” said Wyche. “Those families deserve our support.”

Many parents of the team were in attendance, including starting catcher Bryce Jackson’s father, Les Jackson, who said he had to return to Greenville because he was running out of vacation days.

Jackson is a deputy with the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, and said that Sheriff Neil Elks worked with him so that he could be in attendance last weekend. He said he felt he needed to return to Greenville after Sunday’s win and was unable to be in Williamsport.

Jackson said that he was happy with the support he saw from Greenville and said that it shows how proud the community is with the team. A former collegiate baseball player himself, Jackson said that he could not be more proud of his son.

“As a dad, I was hoping baseball would take on, but I didn’t want to force him,” said Jackson. “I wanted the love to catch on, and it caught.”

Jackson said after the victory that he is certainly heading to Pennsylvania for Saturday’s game. Bryce’s aunt, Delilah Jackson, said after the game that she was incredibly happy. 

“I’m overstimilutated, I’m really excited,” said Jackson. “When he left the house to go, he said, ‘Ms. D, we’re heading to the World Series,’ and I said, ‘You can do it baby.’ Well here we are.”

Most of fans were wearing jerseys and shirts in support of the team. Corey Scott, owner of Gametime Gear in Greenville, said the business started making the shirts to support the team and sold 240 on Wednesday alone. The shirts sold for $25 each, with $5 of each shirt going to support the team and their families.

Mayor Kandie Smith also was at the restaurant. She said she came to support the team and show that the city was fully behind the team.

Smith said that though she could not be at the game on Wednesday night, she is driving up for the next game. Overall, she said she was proud to see the city come together for the team.

“I’m excited about all this enthusiasm, its contagious, we want this team to win, and its awesome to see this support from the city young and old,” said Smith. “All we do is win.”

Contact Seth Gulledge at sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9572.

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