Demopolis 9-10’s eliminate Wilcox, advance to title game

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 11, 2005

Somewhere, there probably have been two consecutive games played by the same two teams that ended even differently than the two played by the Demopolis 9-and-10-year old All-Stars and the All-Stars from Wilcox County in the Dixie Youth Area Tournament. But there sure aren’t many.

After allowing 18 runs in a ten-run-rule loss to Wilcox in the tournament’s opening game Tuesday, Demopolis turned the tables Friday in the two teams’ elimination game re-match, getting a complete game shut-out from pitcher Wesley Anderson and a remarkable team defensive performance to take a 7-0 victory.

The win advances Demopolis to the championship round against undefeated Thomasville, with the first game scheduled for 6 p.m. at Thomasville’s Gates Road Park and a second, if necessary in the case of a Demopolis win, for 8 p.m. Postponements forced by Hurricane Dennis would likely be re-played Tuesday.

Demopolis head coach Darren Anderson said that after Demopolis’s early-inning trouble the first time around, seizing the early momentum was key.

“The first game got away from us pretty quick,” he said. “But this time we came out and hit the ball right away. We got a run in the first inning and that was big, especially when we were able to hold them.”

That critical first run came courtesy of a quick two-out burst from the heart of Demopolis’s revamped order. Former leadoff hitter Anderson, now batting third, singled and stole second to put himself in scoring position for Tyler Charleston, who delivered with an RBI single up the middle. Just like that, Demopolis had their first lead over Wilcox in either game.

The lead was extended to four thanks to a big Will Tucker hit in the bottom of the fourth. New leadoff hitter Darreus Zanders had already singled and scored on a Michael Brooker RBI single when Tucker came to bat with Charleston and T.J. Reese waiting on third and second, respectively, after Reese had laid down a perfect bunt single for the second time in the game. Tucker lashed a hard shot to short, and when Reese’s speed got him past the tag attempt by the Wilcox shortstop, Tucker was able to beat the throw to first. Reese came around to score the third run of the inning and give Demopolis a four-run cushion entering the fifth.

The way Anderson was throwing and the way the Demopolis defense was wielding the glove, it was more than enough. Anderson had already hurled two scoreless innings when Reese made a confident catch in deep center for the first out of the third. Catcher Zanders and Anderson–you could call the battery “Zanderson”–combined to record a dramatic second out as Wilcox runner attempted to score from third on a passed ball. But Zanders reacted quickly and flipped to Anderson, who applied a perfect tag to keep Wilcox off the scoreboard. Zanders followed that play with an even more impressive one, making a precision throw to second just in time to stop another attempted Wilcox steal.

Anderson had struck out the side in the fourth when Reese made the play of the ballgame to open the top of the fifth. A hard line drive to center looked like a surefire Wilcox single before Reese dashed in from deep centerfield, made a head-first dive, and snagged the ball millimeters above the grass for an incredible first out of the inning.

“You’ll see that one on SportsCenter tonight,” coach Anderson said of the play afterwards.

Wilcox wasn’t done yet, putting runners on second and third before Anderson could get the second out, but a pop fly and a strikeout got Demopolis out of the jam. Things got even tougher for Wilcox in the bottom of the fifth, when Rob McCarter drove in Colton Dodd with an RBI single. The lead was pushed to 6-0 when Josh Mangum “took one for the team” with the bases loaded, scoring McCarter, and to 7-0 when William Tutt scored on

Zanders’s infield single.

Anderson got some help from Charleston in the top of the sixth to preserve the shut-out, with the rangy second baseman making a pair of tough catches on Wilcox pop flies. When third baseman Brooker caught another pop put for the third out, Demopolis was on their way to the title game.

If the game is postponed until next week because of Dennis, that may sit just fine with Demopolis fans. If the game is indeed played Saturday, Anderson’s six innings of work mean he is ineligible to pitch in either half of the potential Saturday double header. There would be no such restriction, however, 36 hours after Friday’s game.

Members of the Demopolis 9-and-10-year old All-Star team are Tanner Cox, Jake Freeman, Wesley Anderson, Tyler Charleston, Darreus Zanders, Michael Brooker, Rob McCarter, T.J. Reese, Will Tucker, Colton Dodd, Josh Mangum, Bradley Simmons, and William Tutt. They are coached by Darren Anderson, Kenny Freeman, and James Charleston.