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Sumter, Linden to vie for area 7-and-8 title

BUTLER–The Linden and Sumter County All-Star teams each picked up weekend victories over Demopolis at the Dixie Youth 7-and-8 year old Sub-District tourney, advancing to face each other in Monday night’s championship round and eliminating Demopolis from the competition.

Linden had suffered a 20-17 loss to Demopolis in the opening game of the tournament Thursday, but defeated Butler in a Friday elimination game and came out firing in the first inning of Saturday’s rematch, never trailing en route to a 20-6 win.

“Man I’m excited,” Linden coach Jeremy Barkley said afterwards. “We’ve worked really hard.”

Linden jumped to a 8-1 lead after two innings and increased their margin to 11 by the end of three as Ralph Langley, Thomas Glass, Hayden Huckabee, Matt Williamson, and Tait Sanford each recorded consecutive hits, highlighted by Williamson’s bases-clearing triple. Linden would push two more across in the top of the fourth on base hits by Tyler Barkley and Thomas Etheridge, driving in Cason Cook and Hayden Hall.

Demopolis would respond with four runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth. Blake Bowden drove in Tyler Colburn before Josh Holifield connected for a solid single to center to drive in Caleb Holtzclaw and Sam Renner, narrowing the Linden lead to 14-5.

Each team scored a run in the fifth (Will Stephens with the Linden RBI, Trent Spruell driving in Austin Dinning for Demopolis) before Linden effectively put the game away with a five-run sixth. Shade Pritchett, Cook, Barkley, Etheridge, and Langley each reached base before Glass smacked a bases-loaded triple. Glass nearly recorded a grand slam but was nabbed at the plate after good work at the plate by Demopolis catcher Jacob Rodrigues.

Demopolis fought to the end, as Matthew Trest laced a one-out double to try and get things going in the bottom of the sixth. But it wasn’t to be.

Despite needing two consecutive victories Monday night against Sumter County to advance to the District tourney, Barkley was upbeat after his team’s excellent defensive performance against Demopolis.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Sumter advanced to the championship round by virtue of their 16-11 victory over Demopolis Friday. A tight game was broken open by an 8-run Sumter third inning in which Jeremy Mines added to his growing home run collection with a two-run shot–his third of the tourney–followed closely by a Clay Truelove triple to drive in Kevin Sadler. Sumter might have done even more damage if not for an outstanding scoop at first base by Demopolis’s Blake Bowden of the third out of the inning.

Unfazed by the 11-2 deficit, Demopolis fought back to cut the lead to two, 11-9, at the end of five. Rodrigues, Renner and Holtzclaw each scored to open the fourth before Hines recorded a double play to end the inning. After retiring Sumter one-two-three in the bottom of the fourth, Demopolis would add four more in the fifth as Wallace Tutt, Trent Spruell, Will Allen, and Matthew Trest each crossed the plate.

But that was as close as they would get. Sumter scored five in the bottom of the inning, the big blow a two-run triple from the bat of Blaine Winsett. Back-to-back doubles from Holtzclaw and Mark Joseph Johnson would trim the lead to 16-11, but Sumter held on to advance.

Sumter’s All Star roster includes: Walker Meadows, Seth Meadows, Clay Truelove, Nicholas Clowers, Cullen Bailey, Brett Boland, T.J. Hughes, Blaine Winsett, Camden Martin, Drew Busby, Jeremy Mines, and Kevin Sadler.

Linden’s All-Stars are Hayden Hall, Tyler Barkley, Thomas Etheridge, Ralph Langley, Thomas Glass, Hayden Huckabee, Will Stephens, Matt Williamson, Tait Sanford, Caleb Broadhead, Carson Huckabee, Shade Pritchett, and Cason Cook.

Demopolis’s are Will Allen, Blake Bowden, Tyler Colburn, Austin Dinning, Josh Holifield, Caleb Holtzclaw, Mark Joseph Johnson, Sam Renner, Jacob Rodrigues, Trent Spruell, Matthew Trest, Wallace Tutt, and Luke Yelverton.

Correction: Blaine Winsett and Camden Martin of Sumter County were misidentified as “Blaine Whitsett” and “Chase Martin,” respectively, in Saturday’s edition. The Times regrets the error and is happy to make the correction.

NOTE: Just ahead of press time, Sumter defeated Linden 11-10 in the first game of the championship round Monday night, sending them to the District tourney this weekend in Greensboro. Full coverage will be available in the Wednesday edition of the Times.