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Two local baseball teams prepare to take on the world
east ga flames
The East Georgia Flames and coach Randy Brown hold a meeting on the mound following the team's practice Wednesday at Mill Creek. The Flames, the top-ranked team in the state, are headed to the USSSA World Series in Knoxville, Tenn. next week. - photo by ALEX PELLEGRINO/staff
   World Series titles are on the minds of two Statesboro-based traveling baseball teams, which are heading separate ways in hopes of winning it all next week.
    The East Georgia Flames, the top-ranked 12-and-under (AA) team in the state, will vie for a World Series championship in Knoxville, Tenn., while the second-ranked Georgia Generals will do the same in Kissimmee, Fla. In total, there are eight different USSSA World Series events around the nation to accommodate the more than 2,900 teams in the 12-and-under division. Coaches can choose which one their team plays in.
The Statesboro teams have met four times this season (the series is tied 2-2) and developed quite a rivalry. Earlier this year they fought for the championship in a Super NIT tournament in Atlanta where the Flames won the title, beating out nearly two dozen other teams.
    “It’s quite an honor to have the top two teams in the state from here in Statesboro,” Flames coach Randy Brown said this week. “It was awesome to have two Statesboro teams battling off for the championship as the last two standing. My hat’s off to the Generals because they are a very good team.”
    The Flames and the Generals both spent the week gearing up for their respective World Series. Here’s a look at each team.

The Flames
    The Flames are enjoying a solid season, having finished no lower than fourth in every tournament. They sport a 25-7 record against teams in their classification (AA) and briefly played in a higher division earlier this season. The 12-member team has players from Bulloch, Chandler and Effingham Counties.
    “The boys have really worked hard,” said Brown, who founded the Flames with manager Andy Rushing two years ago. “We don’t have any all-stars. I like to think we are a very cohesive unit and we play well together.”
    The team will head for Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday morning, check in at the World Series on Monday and three days of pool play to determine seeding begin Tuesday. The double-elimination, 23-team tournament starts Thursday.
    The Flames play a travel-intensive schedule with more than a dozen tournaments a year, so where does the World Series rank in terms of importance?
    “This is the Mac Daddy,” Brown said. “This is it. The team that makes the least amount of mistakes will win the tournament – if they hit the baseball. We have been tearing the cover off the ball the last couple weeks, and we’ve got a legitimate shot at winning this whole thing. If we can play sound defense and hit the ball, I think we’ll be okay.”
    The Flames tied for eighth at the World Series last season, and Brown believes they are a much deeper team this time around. He also added a special thanks to the team’s supporters ranging from corporate sponsors to grandparents.
    “They have been a great help to us because we are self-supported,” Brown said. “We have a super crew. We couldn’t do it without the people we have.”

The Generals
    It’s been a great year as well for the Generals, who also consider the World Series their biggest tournament of the season. Coach Marty Durrence feels good about his team’s chances and hopes their familiarity will be to their advantage.
Most of the Generals have been playing together for two years and won the state championship last year as 11-year-olds. This season they finished second in the state tournament two weeks ago in McDonough.
    “We have some guys who’ve had some big-game experience for us,” Durrence said. “We’ll need some of the older guys to step up. Some big plays here and there, and we should be okay.”
    The event will be held at the Houston Astros spring training complex with opening ceremonies on Sunday and play beginning Monday. The Generals will look to experienced pitchers Ben Saunders, Colin Chance and Drake Collins. They’ve been able to go to Blakely Brown to escape trouble in pressure situations on the mound.
    “Pitching and defense have kept us in ballgames and have allowed us to have a successful season so far,” Durrence said. “If our bats come around, I think it’ll make us that much better and probably give us a chance to compete and go pretty deep in the tournament.”
    The Generals have 12 players from Bulloch, Screven, Effingham, Jenkins and Emanuel Counties.
    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.