GREENVILLE, N.C. - Mineral County's Bi-State All-Stars, also referred to as West Virginia after capturing the state championship on July 18, have seen their remarkable and inspirational journey finally come to an end.
By Chapin Jewell
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Mineral County’s Bi-State All-Stars, also referred to as West Virginia after capturing the state championship on July 18, have seen their remarkable and inspirational journey finally come to an end.
On Tuesday, Bi-State West Virginia fell to the Virginia state champions 9-1 in the knockout/semi-final game of the Tournament of State Champions in Greenville, North Carolina.
The journey may have ended, for now at least, but not before the Mineral County boys captured the hearts of Mineral County, their neighbors throughout the tri-state region, and the state of West Virginia.
The numbers are staggering, Bi-State didn’t just win and continue to win, they dominated the competition in all but their final game, the loss to Virginia. Bi-State finishes with an overall record of 11-1, outscoring their opponents by a combined 157 runs to 30, with an average score of 13-3.
With those remarkable numbers comes hardware in the form of a West Virginia Little League state championship banner, and also a final four finish in the Tournament of State Champions.
It’s been a journey well-documented, not just in print in the Mineral Daily News-Tribune, but on social media and around area water coolers. These boys developed quite a following, as evidenced by their successful fundraising efforts thanks to a supportive community, and by the buzz created on game day, which grew with every passing victory.
“The gentleman that that does the announcing and livestreaming came down to us after the game and told us that around 600 people had watched the game; he also said that they had never had 600 people watch a game before, let alone a Tuesday at 10:00 game,” Bi-State coach Mike Orndorf stated.
Rest assured, these boys, their coaches, parents and friends felt the support all the way in North Carolina.
“We can’t thank everyone enough for the support that they have given us through their donations or just saying that they were watching the game. If you happened to be walking around Walmart and caught an inning, were at a restaurant watching, sitting at home with your computer hooked up to your TV, or watching on your phone, we thank you for your support and we appreciate everything that you have done for us,” Coach Orndorf explained.
Despite the fact that no other Bi-State team had advanced this far in all the year’s they’ve played, for this team, advancing this far was the plan all along. According to Orndorf, “When we got the team together, one of the first things we said was that we saw ourselves in North Carolina. Although we came up a game short of advancing to the Tournament of State Champions championship, these young men fought until they told them they had to stop playing.”
“Before we left for North Carolina, we took them through what they had done up that point, starting as 8-year olds representing their respective communities, stopping with representing the league in Shinnston at the state tournament. We then explained to them that they had a chance to do something no team in our league has ever done, and that’s represent the close to two million people of our state.”
As with any Mountaineer, the boys and coaches felt a special pride in representing the Mountain State at the Tournament of State Champions. No longer “Bi-State,” they were “West Virginia.” According to Coach Orndorf, “I can’t speak for everyone, but pulling that jersey over your head that the words “West Virginia” across the chest is a feeling I wish everyone could experience; it was amazing.”
So, the magical ride has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean the magic has to stop. This talented group of Mineral County youngsters have potentially long and fruitful baseball careers ahead of them, and will no doubt be given other chances to represent their league, school, county, state, etc.
The magic will continue also as this successful Bi-State journey has helped reignite the spark of baseball, and particularly all that can be good about little league and youth sports when done right. One noted local coach commented that he has really never been a baseball guy, but watching and following Bi-State on their journey has lit a spark for him to follow baseball more closely.
These boys brought us all together, huddling around phones, laptops, and TVs to watch the action, all for the love of the game, well, really for the love of our kids. The imagery is that of yesteryear, to a time when people huddled around hand-held radios to listen to the Pirates or the Orioles in the World Series.
Mineral County’s Bi-State All-Stars, or Team West Virginia if you like, showed us all what can happen when a community or in our case county rallies together, supporting our own. Bi-State won both on and off the field, as did we.
Thanks for the memories.