Demopolis gets by Sweet Water on Senior Day

Published 10:07 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It was a fitting way to end the Senior Day festivities when Demetrius Charleston slid into home plate in the home half of the eighth inning to hand Demopolis (12-16) the 4-3 win over Sweet Water (13-10) Saturday.

“That’s the way (Charleston) can win a ball game for us right there,” DHS head coach Ben Ramer said. “He’s been hurt. But he has been big for us on the bases all year. That was kind of fitting for him to go all the way around the bases and score the winning run on Senior Day.”

Charleston found his way to first base when he was struck by a pitch with the game at 3-3 in the eighth. As he took his lead off first, Sweet Water attempted a pickoff throw that caromed into foul territory in right field. Charleston darted to second before alertly breaking to third base. His break for third forced a throw from the Bulldogs that was misplayed by an infielder, allowing Charleston to score the game-winning run on a throwing error.

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“The ultimate way to honor the seniors is to win,” Ramer said. “We didn’t do a whole lot to help them. I’m glad they kind of took it on their backs right there.”

After being honored during pre-game ceremonies, the Tiger seniors did all of the offensive damage for Demopolis on the day.

Morgan LeCroy picked up the first hit of the day when he stroked an opposite field single to lead off the third inning. Rick Boone, who entered the day hitless on the season, followed with a two-run shot that found its way over the centerfield fence to give DHS the 2-0 lead and hand the senior the first home run of his career.

“He stung it. Rick stung it. It certainly was not expected, but it jump-started us,” Ramer said of the production out of the seven and eight spots in the Tiger lineup. “Morgan and Rick had good at-bats all day. LeCroy finished his day at 1-for-1 with a trio of walks while Boone added a double in his next at-bat to finish the afternoon at 2-for-4.

The early offense left starter Shelby Speegle in position to pick up the win after he held the Bulldogs scoreless for five innings of work before exiting with the 2-0 lead.

However, the Bulldogs’ seniors proved equally as formidable when they struck in the sixth inning. Senior Antonio Landrum drew a walk before coming around to score on a double by fellow senior Tate Luker. Sweet Water tied the game when Luker crossed the plate following a sacrifice fly by his brother, Linc Luker.

The Bulldogs appeared poised to ruin the Tigers’ special day when freshman Michael Thompson accepted the free pass to first by absorbing an errant pitch in the top of the seventh. The SWHS left fielder handed his team the lead moments later when he scored the go-ahead run on a double by sophomore Chris Landrum.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to accomplish all year is having fight,” Sweet Water head coach Kevin Byrd said.

Demopolis rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh when Jacob Kerby reached on a single before coming around to score on a Speegle double.

Sophomore Ben Pettus picked up the win by retiring the Bulldogs in the eighth and setting up the walk-off heroics by Charleston.

For Sweet Water, the game served as one of the team’s final tests before it hosts Maplesville in the first round of the AHSAA, Class 1A state playoffs Friday.

“It helps a lot,” Byrd said playing teams such as Demopolis so close to the playoffs. “They play solid defense. If you make a mistake against them, they’re going to score. At this stage in the season, it is good to play someone that will make you pay.”

Demopolis managed to do just that Saturday, forcing the loss onto starter Chris Landrum, who struck out nine Tigers in more than seven innings of work.

“He’s doing good for us right now,” Byrd said of the sophomore hurler who is only a few weeks into pitching entire games. “He’s been throwing full games for about two weeks. He’s looking good.”

For Demopolis, the win serves as a proper regular season sendoff for its group of six seniors.

“I told them when we met after the game that I was proud of every one of them,” Ramer said. “First and foremost, they’re dang good kids. They’re not real vocal. They’ve had some tough losses this year. What I’ve been most proud of them for is these last two weeks. They picked us up and found a way for us to win an area championship.”

Demopolis is scheduled to host Tallassee Friday night in the first round of the AHSAA, Class 5A state playoffs.