Tigers end tourney on high note

Published 11:08 pm Friday, March 20, 2009

WETUMPKA —Demopolis (5-13) ended its long losing streak Wednesday, dropping Robert E. Lee 8-6 in its final game during a spring break tournament.

“They were relieved,” sophomore Ben Pettus said of the Tigers’ reaction to snapping the losing streak. “Everybody was getting tired of losing. We knew we were going to get one (win) eventually, but it was good to finally get one.”

“It was just like a relief,” senior Trey Oates said. “You just get tired of walking in that school and when people ask you how you did, you have to tell them you lost. It’s good to finally be able to say you won.”

Demopolis took the lead in the top of the first inning, parlaying back-to-back hits from Kole Thrasher and Jacob Kerby into a 2-0 lead on RBIs from Shelby Speegle and Pettus.

Lee answered back with one run in the bottom of the first before using three hits to score twice in the third and take a 3-2 lead.

Demopolis retaliated in its ensuing at-bat. Morgan LeCroy and Thrasher reached base to lead off the inning before scoring on RBIs by Kerby and Larry Dunn, handing DHS the 4-3 lead.

That advantage proved to be short-lived in the home half of the fourth when the Generals tied the game. The game remained knotted until the top of the sixth.

Thrasher led off the inning with his third hit of the game before moving over to second on a Kerby sacrifice. An error by the first baseman on the sacrifice attempt allowed Thrasher to advance to third and landed Kerby at second where he was relieved by pinch runner Rick Boone. Dunn followed by a grounder that was bobbled by the General shortstop, loading the bases with no outs. Shelby Speegle then hit a groundball to the third baseman who threw home for the force out. However, the Lee catcher dropped the ball, allowing Thrasher to score and give Demopolis the 5-4 lead. Kerby then scored on a passed ball during the Pettus at-bat before Dunn came in when the shortstop hit a single. The final run of the inning plated when Chase Cameron stroked a single to left to score Speegle and give Demopolis the 8-4 lead.

Lee responded again in the bottom of the sixth, scoring two to cut it to 8-6 before Speegle toed the rubber in the seventh to get the save and preserve a 67-pitch, six inning Kerby effort.

“I hope they know now that they can win a close ball game,” Demopolis head coach Ben Ramer said. “I could see it in our kids that they just doubted themselves.”

“It definitely gives us a little more pride than we had,” Pettus said. “It gives you a little more confidence going into the next close game to know that we can battle back and win it and that we have the tools to do it.”

The Wednesday win came on the heels of a marathon Tuesday that saw the Tigers take the field around 7 p.m. to face Alabama Christian (13-4) and remain at the ballpark until almost 1 a.m. when they wrapped up their contest with host team Wetumpka (16-1).

“Our kids played hard. I was extremely proud of them against Alabama Christian,” Ramer said. “It was tough for us to turn around and play that next game late at night against Wetumpka.”

Despite striking out 16 times against the No. 2 team in 4A, Demopolis pushed Alabama Christian to 10 innings before falling 7-4. Oates started the game on the mound for Demopolis, using 108 pitches to scatter three runs over six and one-third innings.

“That’s not the first time he’s done it,” Ramer said of Oates’ performance. “Trey Oates has given us a chance to win the game every time he’s been on the mound this year. I could not have been prouder of Trey Oates.”

“That was probably one of the most comfortable games I’ve ever pitched,” Oates said. “I knew our defense was going to come out and I knew our sticks would come around. I didn’t really worry about anything. I just felt like it was going to be a good game.”

Demopolis entered the seventh inning trailing ACA 4-3 before loading the bases. Speegle was struck by a pitch to tie the game. The contest stayed 4-4 until a three-run Eagle 10th changed the outlook for Demopolis.

“The biggest difference in winning close ball games is that attitude in knowing you’re going to win,” Ramer said. “We haven’t had that attitude.”

Demopolis lost the follow-up to Wetumpka 7-2. The Tigers play again Monday when they host Thomasville.