Legion seniors two-and-out in Tuscaloosa

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 26, 2005

TUSCALOOSA–A tough season came to a close Friday night for the West Alabama American Legion seniors baseball team as back-to-back losses in the District Tournament eliminated them from the competition.

After dropping their first game Friday afternoon to tourney favorites Post 34 by a score of 16-0, West Alabama hung tough with South Tuscaloosa before the host team pulled away for a 9-3 victory and advanced to the championship round against Post 34. For West Alabama, the loss eliminated them from the three-team tournament and ended their season with only three wins in more than 20 attempts.

Early in their game against South Tuscaloosa, there were positive signs that West Alabama might pick up that fourth win at the best possible time. Starting pitcher Josh Dunn worked his way out of trouble in each of the first two innings, inducing an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play in the second. On the other side of the plate, Jack Hazelrig connected for a long double in the first before being stranded. In the third, only a brilliant diving catch by the South Tuscaloosa centerfielder prevented lead-off hitter Bart Butler from driving in Jamie Singleton with a one-out double.

South Tuscaloosa opened the scoring with a two-run home run off of Dunn in the bottom of the third, but West Alabama immediately responded by playing some long-ball of their own in the fourth. First baseman Cory Houston doubled before Tyler Moody stepped to the plate with two outs and belted a South Tuscaloosa pitch deep over the left-centerfield wall to tie the game at two.

Unfortunately, Moody’s blast would be the only time West Alabama would score until the game was essentially decided. Butler’s two-out triple in the fifth and a Houston lead-off single in the sixth gave West Alabama base-runners, but a strikeout and a double-play, respectively, ended the threats.

In the meantime, South Tuscaloosa re-took and expanded their lead. A two-run single and a sacrifice fly accounted for three South Tuscaloosa runs in the bottom of the fourth to open up a 5-2 lead that grew by two in the fifth and by two more in the sixth despite the best efforts of new West Alabama pitcher Hunter Hawley.

Despite facing a 9-2 deficit, West Alabama made a valiant effort to get back into the game in the top of the seventh. Moody doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third on Dunn’s follow-up single. Singleton brought Moody home with a sacrifice fly to bring West Alabama within 9-3, but C.J. Hutchins’ fielder’s choice left West Alabama with only one base-runner and one out to work with. Butler singled, and in some momentary confusion on the part of South Tuscaloosa in handling the relay, the speedy Hutchins broke for home. Unfortunately the ball was delivered home in time and Hutchins was tagged out to end the game and the West Alabama season.

In their previous game, West Alabama had fought hard to keep the score at 1-0 through three innings against Post 34. But Post 34 scored 15 runs over the next two innings to end the game in five innings.

West Alabama’s team includes Bart Butler, Jake DeVoy, Jake Hazelrig, Cory Houston, Hunter Hawley, Tyler Moody, Josh Dunn, Jamie Singleton, and C.J. Hutchins. They are coached by Michael Avalon.