They call themselves Sandlot for a reason and its not to
puff up their chests and brag about being elite.
Instead, its because this team is down to the red clay
earth, a group of Franklin County boys who have grown up together, swung their
bats together and played together.
Theyre not like the All-Star squads of bigger cities, that
draw from scores of applicants to pick out the best dozen they can field.
No, this team is group of Apalachicola and Eastpoint young
men who are the diamond in the Franklin County rough, with a few Gulf County
players who have been grafted into the fold.
They have a friendship that will last forever. They do
everything together, said coach Lloyd
Alford, who oversees the squad with assistance from Jimmy Granger, Zac Alday,
John Brewer and Tyler Poloronis, and of course the wives and girlfriends who
fill in all the blanks.
In 2017 Sandlot won its first Dixie Youth League state title
when they were playing AA ball, downing Port St. Joe in Sebring for the
In 2018 they became a travel ball club, and a pair of twin
brothers from Wewahitchka, #4 JaCorey Williams and #14 Terrell Williams joined
the team, which also includes of #6 Rylan Wood, #99 Eli Harris, #27 Nolan Alford, #1 Sadiq Jones, #7 Kayden Drake.
#12 Jeremiah Allen, #10 Karcen Poloronis, $23 DreKylan North, and the latest addition, a Port St. Joe sixth grader, #9 Colton
Cash Brewer, moved here from New Mexico.
Now, playing in the age 12-13 age group, the boys practice
three days a week, and play tournaments from March through October, taking a
break in August. They travel as far away as Dothan and Pensacola, or as near as
Panama City Beach, to wherever the competition is fiercest.
But this August, there will be no rest, because on July 29
they are headed to a prestigious nationwide tournament in Cooperstown, New York
for a week of playing some of the finest teams in the entire United States.
Alford knows Sandlot will have their work cut out for them,
but after years of winning enough championship rings to fill a hand or two by
playing in the Travel Ball USA, GSSA and Perfect Game systems, hes confident
theyll prove their mettle.
In June in Daphne, Alabama they came back with a GSSA World
Series ring, culminating a six-game win streak with a 9-5 win over the
top-seeded Alabama Prodigy.
And last weekend they won another one in Moultrie, Georgia,
giving them a boost they needed to propel them on the plane ride to Albany, New
York and a chance to play in the shadow of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Its an expensive opportunity, and while they have some big
donors, theyre hoping to raise more this week as people donate to them through
their Sandlot Squad Facebook page to assist with expenses at the 12-under Cooperstown World Series.
All games played
can be viewed live on YouTube.
We dont stay
in the room and eat pizza, said Alford, an Air Force veteran who has a strict
requirement they must keep up their grades or risk being benched.
We stress the
whole person concept, he said. That theyre getting to do something other
kids dream of.