Linden 11-12 ‘s suffer first defeat, 8-6 to Grove Hill

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 11, 2005

LINDEN–After winning the Dixie Youth Sub-District tournament with a perfect 4-0 record, Linden’s 11-and-12-year-old All-Stars suffered their first defeat Thursday night, falling at home to the visitors from Grove Hill 8-6.

The loss stunned the large home crowd at Scott Park as Linden had entered the fourth inning having built a 6-0 lead. But Grove Hill fought back with a five-run rally in the top of the fourth, scored the tying run in the fifth, and plated two more in the sixth to lead 8-6 headed into the bottom of the final inning. The eight Grove Hill runs represented a higher total than Linden allowed in all four Sub-District tourney games combined.

Linden could not come up with the tying runs in the bottom half of the sixth, and must now win out to claim the Area Tournament title. They will face Sumter County Friday night, winner of Thursday’s late game against the Monroeville All-Stars. A victory in that game would see Linden take on Thomasville Saturday, weather permitting.

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The Linden All-Stars built their six-run lead on a pair of three-run outbursts, one coming in the second and another in the third. Chris Sammons got things started for Linden by drawing a walk to lead off the second. Jacob Dunn followed with a single and Mason Tucker drew another walk to load the bases for Alex Hopkins, who notched an RBI by drawing the third Grove Hill walk of the inning and forcing Sammons home. With the bases still loaded, Devin Walker delivered a two-out single to drive in Dunn and Tucker for a 3-0 lead.

It was more of the same in the third as Justin Beverly and Chase Smyly reached base before a Reid Barkley single helped bring them across to extend the Linden lead to five. Barkely then took matters into his own hands for the sixth run, stealing second, third, and home to give Linden what looked to be a commanding lead.

Linden used their regular pitching rotation Thursday, sending pitchers Rabe Hale, Smyly, and Trevor Johnson to the mound for two innings each. But Grove Hill took advantage of some rare, uncharacteristic shaky defensive play on Linden’s part to storm back and advance to play Thomasville Friday night.

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, Perry Johnson, and Randy Hale.