JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Jonesboro 10-year old Cal Ripken team finished runner-up in the World Series after falling to Manatee, Florida 15-2 in Saturday's championship game.
Jonesboro was the host team in the tournament and made their way to the championship game after winning their pool and the American League Division to earn a first round bye.
On Friday night, the team defeated Visalia, CA by the final score of 9-7 to earn their shot at the World Series Championship.
If Jonesboro could have pulled off the World Series championship, they would have been the first host team in the history of the Cal Ripken World Series to win the tournament.
Manatee jumped out to an early lead scoring four runs in the first inning. Big offense has been a calling card for the Floridians in this tournament. "We've worked really hard on our approach at the plate," said Manatee Head Coach Mark Hanson, "We've had our ups and downs but this whole tournament they came in and had a plan."
The Manatee pitching did the rest, they allowed just two runs in the title game and finished things off in the fourth inning. "I'm extremely proud, these guys have been working so hard for so long," said Hanson.
For Jonesboro, there's certainly no reason to hang their heads. They went where no one expected them to go and nearly won their championship. "I'm extremely proud," said Jonesboro Head Coach Gary Hoyt, "We've only played six ball games together, the Florida team has probably played 70."
The tournament concludes with everyone giving Jonesboro a round of applause for a succesful Cal Ripken World Series. "It was tremendous," Hoyt said, "I think everyone from the community that came out here and supported us. I couldn't ask for more."
The vistors to Region 8 were also impressed with the way things went during their nearly 10 days in Jonesboro. "This place has been great," said Hanson, "From the restaurants to the hotels, the people here have been very nice to us."
We may not have seen the last of this group of Jonesboro ball players. There is a 12 and under Cal Ripken World Series that they will be eligible for now that they've moved out of the 10-year old division.