13-year-old All-Stars fight hard, lose to Monroeville

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 19, 2005

ALEXANDER CITY–Before heading to Alexander City for the Babe Ruth League state tournament, West Alabama 13-year-old all-Stars head coach Jim Gardner said that the most important thing about the experience was for the players to continue to develop. It’s something he reminded his team about after a closer-than-the-score 17-5 loss to Monroeville eliminated West Alabama from the tournament.

“I encouraged them to keep working hard,” Gardner said. “We got to play in the state championship tournament and it was a great experience.”

That experience came despite a couple of tough losses on the field, the second one a hard-fought contest Saturday morning against Monroeville that saw West Alabama fight their way to within a run at 6-5 entering the fourth inning before Monroeville pulled away.

After Monroeville had scored two to open the game in the top of the second, West Alabama responded with a pair of their own in the bottom of the inning. Larry Skyler Dunn singled, stole second, and scored on a Justin Tubbs single. After Tubbs advanced to third on back-to-back Monroeville balks, Austin Holley tied the game with an RBI single.

Monroeville re-took the lead with a three-run second only for West Alabama to respond again. Dunn again got things started with a single and was followed by singles from Cameron Barger and Tubbs, who got his second RBI of the day when Dunn came across. Holley matched him with an infield single, scoring Barger and giving Holley a second RBI.

Monroeville pushed the lead back to two with one in the third, but the bottom half of the West Alabama order manufactured its own run to keep pace. Jordan Stone doubled to left-center to lead of the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice ground-out by Charles Jones III, and scored on an RBI ground-out by Jeffrey Durrett.

Despite the 6-5 scoreline, the game had already seen its share of excellent defense by the end of the third inning. West Alabama shortstop Justin Tubbs made several outstanding plays during the game, including a diving stop to his right to prevent a run in the second. John Michael Cochran was robbed by the Monroeville defense on consecutive second- and third-inning at-bats, first by a remarkable diving catch in shallow left by the Monroeville leftfielder, and then by the Monroeville pitcher’s snag of a low line drive that appeared to be a sure base hit.

Although West Alabama recorded two outs without Monroeville scoring a run in each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, the third out proved much more difficult to come by and a series of Monroeville rallies left West Alabama facing a twelve-run deficit entering the bottom of the sixth. Still, the West Alabama players fought hard as Ja’Quan Pullum and Trey Pickett came off the bench to each record a single and move into scoring position before the Monroeville pitcher recovered to preserve the ten-run lead and end the game in the sixth.

“They played hard…I hate that it got away from us there,” Gardner said. “[But] we’ll look to the future. Next year the [West Alabama Babe Ruth] league will be stronger, they’ll be older and stronger…we’ll work to get ready for next year.”

The West Alabama 13-year-old All-Stars are Cameron Barger, Larry Dunn, Austin Holley, Johnny Gardner, Jordan Stone, Justin Tubbs, Jacob Taylor, John Michael Cochran, Charles Jones III, Jeffery Durrett, Ja’Quan Pullum, and Trey Pickett.

Central Alabama drop close one to Sylacauga

West Alabama were not the only team representing the area at the 13-year-old state tournament. The Central Alabama team competed as well, comprised of players who had played with Babe Ruth teams from Linden and Butler.

Central Alabama faced off with the Sylacauga All-Stars Saturday morning in Alex City and nearly rallied from a four-run seventh inning deficit, cutting an 8-4 lead to two with two outs as Weldon Fultz, Wood Collins, and Matthew Martin each reached base. But they could get no closer and Sylacauga moved on.

Members of Central Alabama are Weldon Fultz, Wood Collins, Matt Wallace, Matthew Martin, Alan Flowers, Deonte Maye, Michael Martin, Jerrod Reed, and Josh Kennedy.