Although South Hill had been close several times before, the 1973 Dixie Youth Majors baseball team was the first from our local franchise to win a Virginia state championship and advance to the World Series.
After losing 17-0 to Crewe-Burkeville in a winner’s bracket contest in the state tournament that year, South Hill fought back through the loser’s bracket and beat the heavily favored Crewe team 4-2 in the state title game.
South Hill pitcher Danny Wilson, rebounded from a loss against Crewe earlier that week, to earn the win on the mound.
Second baseman Johnny Cleaton came on in relief of Wilson in the sixth inning with the tying run on base to get the final two outs.
Crewe had loaded the bases in the first inning and pitcher Mickey Roberts hit a deep shot to right field that South Hill outfielder Robert Harris, Jr., tracked down. The runner for Crewe-Burkeville on third base tagged and scored to get them on the scoreboard.
The South Hill team however challenged and the runner at third was called out for leaving the bag too early. The spark seemed to rally the local team as Wilson struck out the next batter to get out of the first inning jam unscathed.
South Hill’s offense came to life in the third inning when Perry Bagbey led off with a single and Harris laid down a bunt that the Crewe defense was able to turn into a force out at second base. Bill Jordan followed with a walk to put runners at first and second. After a flyout by Cleaton, Randy Gosney pounded a double to right field to score Jordan and Harris. Gosney scored later in the inning when Tommy Cantley reached on an error. Wilson followed with a RBI single to give South Hill a 4-0 lead.
Crewe tried to rally in the final inning when Shawn Stafford led off the stanza with a solo homerun, his fifth in the state tournament. After retiring the next batter, Crewe-Burkeville put runners on with a double and single. After going 3-0 to the next batter, South Hill Co-Managers Sammy Piercy and J. L. Piercy brought Cleaton on in relief. He threw a ball to the first batter for a walk which loaded the bases but struck out the next batter and got a pop fly that Roger Poythress caught after a collision in front of the plate with Cleaton to seal the victory.
The South Hill infield which consisted of third baseball Bill Jordan, shortstop Perry Bagbey, second baseman Johnny Cleaton and first baseball Any Piercy were all unsung heroes in the victory as 10 of the final 13 outs were made on a ground ball to the infield.
Bagbey had two hits at the plate to lead South Hill in the title game while Harris, Gosney and Cantley all had key doubles in the victory.
South Hill earned a bid to the Dixie Youth World Series in North Charleston, South Carolina where they upset the host team 1-0 on the second day of tournament play as Randy Gosney fired a 1-hitter with 11 strikeouts.
The local team scored the game winner when Cleaton and Gosney singled and Cantley walked to load the bases A RBI groundout by Wilson scored Cleaton for the only run the local team would need.
South Hill fell 3-0 to Mississippi in their second game as they were no-hit and committed four errors on defense that led to three unearned runs.
South Hill was eliminated from the World Series after falling 7-1 to Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia who would go on to win the title with an 8-1 win over Alabama. A second inning homerun by Gosney was South Hill’s only run in the game.