BRADENTON -- They fired on the lights, fired up the national anthem and called each player one by one to the baselines.
The District 26 baseball tournament rolled on amid cooperating skies and sticky humidity Friday night at G.T. Bray park, making for a fitting beginning to the Fourth of July weekend.
All three of G.T. Bray’s fields, as well as the concession stand that sits in the middle of them, were buzzing all night, beginning at 6 p.m. and lasting late into the night.
For some, it marked the beginning of the end. The district’s 9-10 age groups began their double-elimination playoffs, open to four of the six teams that qualified out of pool play: Braden River, Buffalo Creek, Lakewood Ranch and Manatee National.
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The district’s 10-11 teams, Braden River and Lakewood Ranch, also played out their string.
Later, the district’s 11-12 age groups began pool play and their hopeful march to Williamsport, Pa., home of the Little League World Series.
“I enjoy it and being out here with the kids,” said Buffalo Creek 9-10 coach Randy Wormer. “And I enjoy teaching.”
Wormer has been with Buffalo Creek for five years. Friday, he watched his team erase an early three-run deficit and score an 8-5 win over Lakewood Ranch, putting the squad a step closer to Tuesday’s district final.
Lakewood Ranch defeated Buffalo Creek during pool play.
“I’m happy with the way they came back,” Wormer said, “and persevered.”
There were no balloons, fireworks or frills Friday night. Just kids playing baseball while their parents, many of whom were wearing their children’s names on the back of their shirts, watched from the bleachers.
Action resumes at 10 a.m. today at G.T. Bray with continuation of the 9-10 playoffs. Braden River meets Buffalo Creek, and Lakewood Ranch faces Manatee National.
Pool play for the 11-12 teams resumes at noon today when Buffalo Creek plays Lakewood Ranch and Braden River meets Manatee West.