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North State one win from Williamsport

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Elm Street Park, the home for Greenville Little Leagues. (File/The Daily Reflector)

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The Daily Reflector

Monday, August 7, 2017

Young baseball players from Greenville got a chance so many older athletes never even get to experience when they played on national primetime television on ESPN on Monday night.

It was the biggest game yet for the North State 12-year-old All-Stars, and they beat Goodlettsville, Tenn., 4-2 in the Little League Southeast Regional semifinals to continue a historic summer run.

A victory Wednesday — also on ESPN at 3 p.m. — in the winner-take-all regional final will get them to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., where a Greenville club hasn’t been since Tar Heel made the World Series semifinals in 1998.

The players got to do personal introductions before the start of the game. They walked out of the dugout, said their name and their favorite baseball player.

Announcers for the broadcast shared anecdotes about the players and about Greenville. A graphic identified BMX legend Dave Mirra as a Greenville “famous face” and stated that the city is the home to East Carolina University.

Left-hander Thomas Barrett pitched five-plus innings, striking out five batters with two runs allowed, before Matthew Matthijs got the final three outs.

During the third inning, with North State leading 3-1, the story was told about shortstop Carson Hardee giving his glove the nickname of “Caroline.” Then Hardee turned a 6-3 double play to end the inning.

Tennessee scored a run in the top of the first, but Greenville put up three runs in the bottom-half with Drew Fields providing the game’s biggest hit with a two-run, two-out single for a 3-1 edge.

North State will play Tennessee or Georgia on Wednesday in the championship.

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