Stunner Ending: Basinger waves goodbye to breaking ball blues

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 12, 2004

Whether or not it was the Demopolis Tigers best or worst game of the season is a matter of opinion for many, but there is one thing that is an absolute fact about Friday’s 2-1 victory over the 9-17 Jackson High Aggies. It was the most exciting games of the season.

“I’m both disappointed and proud of this team right now,” DHS head coach James Moody said after the game. “We didn’t win the battle, but we somehow won the war.”

Aggies’ starting left-handed pitcher Josh Davis doesn’t have a 90 mph fastball or a curve ball that leaves a batter ducking when they should be swinging. But what he does have is a breaking ball. It’s not the best breaking ball in high school baseball, but when it comes to the DHS Tigers, any breaking ball will do.

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Davis’ breaking ball confused and bewildered the Tigers throughout seven innings, resulting in six, very quick three-and-out innings for the Aggies. By the end of the sixth inning the Tigers had collected a total of two hits, while trailing the Aggies 1-0.

But in the bottom of the seventh a gift would arrive for the Tigers, as Davis would give up his first walk of the game to junior Chad Schroeder. Schroeder had had the pleasure of reaching first earlier in the game, but was picked off by the lefty pitcher.

But this time around it was Schroeder who got the last laugh. Moody gave Schroeder the sign to steal on Davis’ first move. Unfortunately for Davis, his first move was to first base, and as he watched Schroeder move quickly to second, Davis would commit the only Jackson error of the game and throw away a toss to first that allowed Schroeder to not only take second and third base, but would result in the tying run for the Tigers pushing the game into extra innings.

But as the game headed into the bottom of the eighth inning still tied at 1-1, the dilemma still remained for the Tigers. In order to win, they would have to learn how to hit a breaking ball, and they would have to learn fast.

In the bottom of the eighth inning there arose a noise out of the once quite DHS dugout, and with the noise out of the dugout came another from the plate. Junior William Meador got hold of one and ripped a single into right field. Pinch runner Chris Wasson replaced Meador at first.

With Wasson on first on no outs, Moody looked to designated hitter Darrell Kent to make a sacrifice bunt, while giving Wasson the green light to take second base. Kent laid one down the third base line, but Wasson never intended on just taking second, for he had other intentions all along.

Wasson hit second base on the steal at full speed with his eyes fixed on coach Moody at third. The Aggies made the play at first and grabbed their first out of the inning as Wasson was digging his way into third. With Moody yelling, “Get down,” every DHS player in the Tigers dugout rose to their feet and stepped towards the field to catch a glimpse of the play at third. Anticipation swarmed throughout the ball field as Wasson slid in under a bad throw to safely reach third base.

The Tigers were now just 90 feet away from earning the once hopeless win as junior Clark Kerby came to the plate. Kerby, who was hitless on the day, tattooed a ball toward a gap in the infield for what looked to be a base hit, but Davis quickly reacted to the hard hit ball and reached to his right to grab the second out of the inning.

With two outs, the Tigers first and last hopes of earning a run rested on the shoulders of junior Seth Basinger, who had previously struck out twice against Davis. But Basinger was determined as he stepped into the batters box. He took the first pitch thrown his way for a ball, then belted a deep fly ball to left-center field that gracefully dropped in behind the Aggies center-fielder for a stand-up double. Wasson walked into home to capture the win.

“We did everything we had to do to win this one,” Moody said. “But we did nothing to get the tie. That one, they gave to us.

As a team the Tigers collected just four hits on the day, as juniors G. W. Washington, Basinger, Meador and Schroeder go 1-for-3 with the stick. Washington and Basinger hit doubles, while Meador and Schroeder hit singles. Basinger earned the Tigers only RBI of the game.

Defensively, it was junior Devin Goodwin who picked up the win for the Tigers going eight innings earning 8K’s, while giving up one unearned run on four hits and no walks.

The Tigers defense had their moments in the field as they collected three double plays, but would commit two errors on the day as well.

Davis got the loss for the Aggies going eight innings earning 8K’s, while giving up one earned run on four hits with one walk and one costly error.

With the win the Tigers improve to 21-6, but will face their toughest opponent yet with Prattville coming to down today for a doubleheader starting at noon.