West Alabama takes opener
DEMOPOLIS &8212; West Alabama rode a gritty performance from Chase Smyly and a 10-run sixth inning to an 11-10 victory over Central Alabama in the first of a best-of-five game series to determine the District 10 champions.
The West Alabama squad, composed of players from Demopolis and Linden, showed few signs of life through the early frames of the game. Central Alabama starter Jamie Clements limited the WA team to two hits, allowing only four base runners until the sixth inning.
Bill Holeman had scored the only run of the game for West Alabama, which trailed 7-1 in the bottom of the sixth. However, four straight walks to start the inning proved enough to awaken the WA bats.
Holeman, who had previously scored on a Neilsen Renner single, scored on a Renner walk to cut the score to 7-2. Matt Sellers followed with an RBI-single that plated Smyly and Matt Barger. Cameron Fendley then roped a single that scored Renner. West Alabama tied the game on a Kevin Pritchett single that knocked in Sellers and Alex Hopkins. The home team took the lead when a Tyler Howerton single pushed Fendley across the plate. With no one out in the inning, Holeman returned to the plate as the 10th batter of the frame, ripping a double to score Pritchett. Howerton then grounded out to the second baseman to pick up the RBI when Smyly scored before Holeman scored on a Barger sacrifice. The rally left West Alabama with an 11-7 lead heading into the top of the seventh.
Central Alabama, made up of players from Butler, Greensboro, Sweet Water and Sumter County, mounted its own comeback effort in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs in the frame. Clements, who hit a two-run home run earlier in the game, stepped to the plate with two outs and the tying run on third.
After falling behind 0-2, Clements fouled off a series of pitches and worked his way to full count. Smyly finally won the battle, getting Clements to whiff on strike three to end the game.
The teams will play game two of the best-of-five series today at 6 p.m. at the Sports-Plex. Central Alabama will be the home team in that contest.