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Tigers split twinbill with Jackson

The Demopolis baseball team opened its 2009 season by splitting a double-header with defending 4A state champion Jackson High. The Tigers picked up a 9-4 win in the front end of the double-dip before dropping the back side of the clash 9-5.

“(Demopolis head coach) Ben (Ramer) always does a great job of getting his guys ready out of the gate,” Jackson head man Jason Jones said.

Jackson opened the scoring in the opener when Chad Dickinson reached on an error to start the contest. Sam Harbuck followed with an infield hit before a Windham Jackson walk loaded the bases. Jeremy Armstead then grounded to the shortstop, scoring Dickinson from third.

Demopolis starter Shelby Speegle induced a double-play from the Aggies’ five-hole hitter to get out of the inning.

Speegle found himself in a jam again in the second inning after Josh Kimbell and Matt Allen put together back-to-back singles with only out. Speegle squelched the threat quickly, striking out the ninth-place batter before getting another 6-3 putout from shortstop Ben Pettus to end the inning. Speegle went on to allow only one more hit in the game when Kimbell struck for an infield single in the fourth inning.

“He’s 10 weeks removed from an ACL tear and he goes out and throws five innings in the first ball game,” Demopolis head coach Ben Ramer said of Speegle, whose outing saw him allow four hits, one walk and no earned runs over five innings while picking up the win to anchor the Tiger effort.

Demopolis sent only six batters to the plate over the first two innings before breaking through in the third. Austin Holley started the rally with a one-out walk. Trey Oates and Kole Thrasher drew free passes to load the bases before Pettus walked to score Holley. Larry Dunn followed, ripping a single to plate Oates. Speegle then drew a walk to push Thrasher across. Pettus crossed home after a passed ball before Dunn scored on a Jacob Kerby single to hand Demopolis the 5-1 lead.

The Aggies got on the board again in the sixth inning when Jackson launched a shot over the right field wall to cut the score to 5-2.

The Tigers struck back in the bottom of the sixth when Oates and Thrasher opened the inning with walks. Pettus followed with a single that scored Demetrius Charleston, who pinch ran for Oates. Dunn capped the Demopolis scoring with a three-run shot over the fence in right-center.

Jackson added two more in the seventh, scoring Lincoln Reeves and Dickinson off the RBIs of Armstead and J.D. Mitchell.

“We made plays in the field. I was very pleased with our effort,” Ramer said of the opening game. “I was pleasantly surprised with our performance. We made a lot of little nitpicky mistakes, but it’s things that we can correct.”

Ramer said he was surprised with the way his team executed in the game.

“We’ve been trying so hard just to get caught up on the physical part of the game that we haven’t talked about the mental aspect,” Ramer said. “We saw some kids do some good things.”

Jackson struck first again in the second game when Dickinson doubled to lead off the first inning. He advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring on Jackson’s fly out to right field.

Kimbell and Jackson reached on errors to lead off the third inning. Kimbell scored on a Mitchell double before Harris plated Jackson with a single to stretch the Aggie lead to 3-0.

Demopolis responded in the bottom of the frame when Oates singled to left to start the inning. Charleston, who was inserted as a pinch runner, took second and third on passed balls before scoring on an RBI single by Kerby. Despite loading the bases, the Tigers managed only one run in the inning as Dickinson utilized three strikeouts to work himself out of the inning.

“It started for us on the mound the second ball game,” Jones said. “We did a much better job of throwing strikes and getting outs.”

“I was disappointed in our overall effort in the second game,” Ramer said of his team. “The way we looked to me in the second game was that we were very satisfied with getting a win in the first one.”

Jackson stretched its lead again in the fourth when Joe Jackson reached on an infield hit before getting to third on a Dickinson double. Kimbell then picked up two RBIs with a single to put Jackson up 5-1.

The Aggies padded their lead again in the fifth when they used a Mitchell walk, a Harris single, alert base running and a passed ball to go up 7-1 before Dickinson stroked a triple to plate Joe Jackson, who had reached on an error.

The lead jumped to 9-1 in the seventh when Kimbell scored on a Windham Jackson triple.

Demopolis showed signs of life in the bottom of the inning when Rick Boone walked to start the frame. He advanced to second when Oates was hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Pettus singled to plate Boone. Dunn then walked to load the bases before William Hill plated Oates when he was struck by a pitch. Logan Holley followed with a walk to score Pettus. Tre Jones then walked to plate Dunn and cap the scoring. Demopolis used four walks, two hit batters and one hit to score four runs in the inning.

“We’ve got some kinks to work out right now,” Jason Jones said.

His pitching staff was without the use of its No. 1 starter, Armstead. According to Jones, the Aggie workhorse is nursing an arm injury that relegated him to the team’s designated hitter role Monday.

“We didn’t want to throw him at all today,” Jones said of Armstead.

Demopolis’ drop off in production in the second game of the twinbill alarmed Ramer.

“If and when we come out on the wrong end on the scoreboard, we’re going to make sure that it is not because we didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” Ramer said.