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Bartow County Little League 12U falls to Northern Columbus in state championship

Bartow County Little League 12U lost a pair of games to Northern Columbus Friday night to finish 2021 State Runner-Up. ROSTER: Noah Janssen, Drew Nida, Wyatt Garlin, Zaylen Cochran, Hayden Miller, Matt Zander, Taylor Hicks, Rush Faulk, Raiden Sexton, McCayden Hufstetler, Trenton Mealer, and Drazen Jones. Manager: Joe Janssen. Coaches: Joe Jones, Tarron Miller

Bartow County Little League baseball’s 12U team made a great run at the 2021 Georgia Little League State Tournament, but came up short in the finals falling to Northern Little League of Columbus.

As the unbeaten team heading into Friday’s finals of the double-elimination tournament, Bartow needed one win to capture the state title. Northern took the opening game 11-5 and scored two sixth inning runs in the nightcap to win 4-2.

The two wins Friday night for Northern completed a string of wins in six consecutive elimination games. The Columbus squad lost its opening game of the tournament last Saturday to Peachtree City, 10-0. Northern then reeled off wins over Elbert County (9-1), Athens (13-4), Warner Robins (6-4), and Peachtree City (6-2) just to reach the finals.

The 2021 state title for Northern is the league’s seventh since 1990. Northern also won state titles in 1990, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2013, and 2014. The 2006 team went on to win the Southeast Regional and the Little League World Series — defeating Japan 2-1 in the LLWS title game.

The loss for Bartow County continued a lengthy streak for the winners of District 1 in Georgia. The district only has one state champion in history. That was Rome Little League in 1953.

Bartow reached Friday’s championship by reeling off three straight wins in the tournament. The locals had wins over Warner Robins (3-2), Athens (9-8), and Peachtree City (13-4).



Northern pitcher Jaycob Veloz kept Bartow hitters off balance most of the night in a complete game effort. The right-hander scattered nine hits and did not issue a walk while striking out four. He also drove in four runs with his bat going 2-for-4.

Gabe Galarza also had two hits for Northern. Cam Carino tripled, Hudson Clark and Braxton Wilkinson both doubled. Harrison Serna contributed one hit and two RBIs. Aiden Bowman had a hit and one RBI in his only at-bat while Collin Snyder, Otis Stephens, and Nicholas Hatchell added to Northern’s 12-hit attack.

Raiden Sexton, who went 2-for-3 with one RBI at the plate, suffered the pitching loss. He allowed eight runs (five earned) on eight hits and three walks. Sexton fanned seven in 3-and-1/3 innings on the mound.

Hayden Miller recorded the final five outs for Bartow in relief. He allowed three earned runs on four hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts.

Rush Faulk led the Bartow offense with three hits and one RBI. Drew Nida, Drazen Jones, Trenton Mealer, and Matthew Zander added one hit each.



Bartow held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first three innings, but Northern scored a run in the fourth inning to tie the game and two more in the top of the sixth to pull out the win.

Raiden Sexton had an RBI single in the first inning for Bartow’s earliest lead and Rush Faulk smack a solo home run in the third inning that gave the locals a 2-1 edge.

Northern scored a single run in the top of the third on a hit batsman and two infield hits. The Columbus squad tied the game 2-2 in the fourth on a walk and an RBI double by Veloz.

Northern’s go-ahead runs in the sixth inning scored off an infield single and back-to-back, two-out RBI singles by Veloz and Clark.

Carino picked up the pitching victory for Northern by finishing off the final 2-and-1/3 innings on the mound. He gave up only one hit, no walks, and recorded four strikeouts in his scoreless stint. Harrison Serna started the game and gave up two runs (one earned) on seven hits and two walks. Serna fanned seven.

Jones (5 IP, 3ER, 6H, 3BB, 5K) was tagged with the pitching loss for Bartow County. Zander (1 IP, 1ER, 2H, 1K) recorded the final three outs.

Faulk and Sexton finished with two hits each for Bartow including Faulk’s solo home run and one RBI for Sexton. McCayden Hufstetler, Jones, Wyatt Garlin, and Miller had the other Bartow base hits.



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