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Oates lifts Demopolis over Chilton

Demopolis (7-16, 2-2) rode the strength of a Trey Oates pitching gem to a 4-2 win over Chilton County (11-7, 3-1) Tuesday.

“We needed it bad,” Demopolis head coach Ben Ramer said. “I am so proud of our kids. They did an excellent job. They came ready to play. They played every pitch hard. It was like a playoff game.”

Oates pitched around baserunners in the first three innings before Demopolis handed him a cushion in the home half of the third.

Junior Will Hill got the home Tigers’ first hit of the game before coming in to score when a pitch struck DHS batter Larry Dunn with the bases loaded to hand Demopolis the 1-0 lead. Kole Thrasher, who singled with one out, scored on a Shelby Speegle RBI groundout to push the lead to 2-0. The big blow of the inning came when Ben Pettus ripped a two-out single between the shortstop and third baseman to plate Demetrius Charleston and Dunn.

“I think it was huge for him,” Ramer said of Pettus, who has struggled at the plate this season. “He spends a lot of time up here by himself. I was real proud and happy for him to get a big hit in that situation.”

The Pettus hit put DHS up 4-0 and proved to be all Oates needed to pick up the win.

“I couldn’t think of one thing more we could ask him to do,” Ramer said of Oates. “He threw a gem, a 75-pitch complete game.”

Oates scattered eight hits, struck out four and allowed only two runs over his seven innings of work.

“My fastball was on. I was hitting my spots tonight,” Oates said before turning his attention to the offensive output. “Runs on the board always help a pitcher’s mind.”

Chilton got both its runs off Adam Minor RBIs, but proved incapable of backing up starting pitcher Ben Handley’s outing.

“He pitched a great game,” CCHS coach Josey Shannon said of Handley, who struck out six and allowed just three hits over six innings of work. “I don’t know what was going on. Our head wasn’t in it from the first minute on. That’s all you can ask out of your pitcher is to give you a chance to win.”

Ramer said one of the the most impressive accomplishments for his team Tuesday was its ability to remain focused despite the threat of cancellation due to inclement weather.

“I’ve been on teams and I’ve coached teams where you have some doubt about playing the game and then, all of a sudden, it’s on and you’re not ready to play,” Ramer said. “We matured today as a team.”

The teams are scheduled to meet again Friday in Chilton County for a double-header.

“We’re ready for the same intensity,” Shannon said of the impending match-up. “These guys are coached real well.”

“We’re still in a position where we can win an area championship,” Ramer said. “Our team is a lot better than its record. We’ve lost some close ball games. We know that the double-header we play on Friday is the biggest two ball games we’ve had all year.”