Linden 11-12 All-Stars eliminate Demopolis

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 1, 2005

LIVINGSTON–In the first Sub-district tournament game between Linden’s and Demopolis’s 11-and-12-year old All-Stars, Linden got a solid pitching performance from Rabe Hale and enough clutch hitting to pull out a 4-1 win.

In Wednesday night’s rematch, Linden got more of the same dominant pitching. But they also broke out the long-ball in an impressive hitting display that earned them a 10-0 win and brought them within a win of the tournament title.

“No doubt,” said Linden coach Michael Etheridge when asked if this was one of his team’s best performances. “We’re very proud of them.”

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Aside from a first-inning solo shot by Trevor Johnson, Demopolis pitcher Chase Cameron held Linden in check over the first three innings. But Linden broke the game open with an 8-run fourth inning, highlighted by Hunter Crouch’s 3-run home run.

Justin Beverly got things started with a double before Chase Smyly drew a walk and Hale bunted his way on to load the bases. Johnson and Reid Barkley then connected for back-to-back doubles to clear the bases and extend Linden’s lead to 5-0. Barkley scored on a Matt Etheridge sacrifice bunt, and after Chris Sammons and Alex Hopkins had each reached base, Crouch belted an outside pitch deep to the opposite field for a commanding nine run lead.

Linden’s pitchers made sure it stood up. Starter Etheridge took the mound with a 1-0 lead and preserved it through two. Ben Pettus in the first and Matthew Sellers in the second led each inning off with a single for Demopolis. But Etheridge failed to allow a second base-runner either inning and induced a 6-4-3 double-play to end the second inning threat. Chase Smyly pitched the third and fourth innings without allowing a base-runner, and Trevor Johnson struck two batters out in the fifth to strand Demarcus James at second.

Kole Thrasher came on in relief for Demopolis in the fifth and held Linden largely in check, including getting the dangerous Johnson to pop up in the sixth. But Linden was able push a tenth run across as Barkley recorded his third RBI with a single to drive in Smyly.

Smyly then contributed the defensive play of the game in the top of the seventh, moving to his left from his shortstop position to make a diving catch and rob Sellers of a certain base hit. Still Demopolis refused to give up, loading the bases on a Thrasher single past first base and pair of walks from Matthew Barger and Payne Hasty. But Johnson got one more strikeout to preserve the shutout.

Afterwards, Demopolis head coach Chris Cameron paid tribute to his team’s work ethic and character.

“We didn’t have one problem out of anybody,” he said. “They put in a lot of time. We didn’t take any time off…we practiced for 14 straight days. They worked hard.”

Cameron said he’d told his team to put the loss behind them and that he was already looking forward to next season.

“I told them that true ballplayers never put their glove in the closet,” he said, noting that a new age deadline meant that seven of this year’s starters would be in the same league next season. “We’ll be back,” he said.

For Linden, the victory means all that stands between them and a trip to the District Tournament is one game against Sumter County, a team Linden has already defeated once in the tournament.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said coach Etheridge. “We had a good one-run ball game last time and I’m sure it’ll be a good game again.”

Sumter would need to win twice against Linden to earn the District invite.

Linden’s All-Stars are Chase Smyly, Rabe Hale, Trevor Johnson, Reid Barkley, Chris Sammons, Matt Etheridge, Alex Hopkins, Hunter Crouch, Jacob Dunn, Mason Tucker, Devin Walker, Kevin Pritchett, and Justin Beverly. They are coached by Michael Etheridge.

The Demopolis Dixie Youth 11-and-12-year old All-Star team is coached by Chris Cameron, Chris Stewart, Mark Hasty, and Keith Holley. The All-Stars are Payne Hasty, Kole Thrasher, William Stewart, Matthew Barger, Logan Holley, Tyler Howerton, Bill Holeman, Jacob Roemen, Matthew Sellers, Walker McNiell, Ben Pettus, DeMarcus James, and Chase Cameron.