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Cameron leads Demopolis past Chilton

CLANTON — Demopolis (11-11, 3-0) took a major step toward clinching a playoff spot and perhaps winning an area championship Monday night when it downed Chilton County 7-1.

“They were ready. You could tell on the bus they were ready,” Demopolis head coach Ben Ramer said. “There was a difference in their focus and their approach going over there.”

Ramer said he told his team it had to get productivity out of the top of its lineup and needed to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities created by that group’s success.

“They capitalized on those opportunities later in the game,” Ramer said.

Demopolis led only 1-0 until the sixth inning when it erupted for six runs and effectively put the game out of reach. Demopolis scored its first run in the fourth inning to give junior pitcher Chase Cameron his first lead. That alone was nearly enough for Cameron, who has emerged as the team’s ace this season.

Cameron allowed a double in the first inning and then settled in, not surrendering another hit until there were two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Cameron came back to get the final out, pitching a complete game two-hitter and striking out nine.

The big offensive blow came off the bat of freshman Payne Hasty, who stepped to the plate in the sixth inning as a pinch hitter. In his only at-bat of the game, Hasty doubled in a pair of runs.

“We talk to them about always being ready,” Ramer said. “Payne is limited in what he can do right now with his arm injury. But he came in and took advantage, got a big hit for us in that situation.”

Leadoff man Kole Thrasher found his way on base three times, going 1-for-2 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Jacob Roemen went 1-for-2 with a run scored and a pair of sacrifices out of the lineup’s second slot. Larry Dunn went 2-for-4. Cameron when 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Hunter Wells had a double, a run scored and an RBI. Logan Holley doubled and scored. Cameron Barger and Ben Pettus each scored runs.

The win marked the fourth in a row for the Tigers, who pulled their record back to 500 after an inauspicious start.

“It’s been a while since we were sitting at that mark,” Ramer said. “Right now, I’m not as concerned with the record as I am with the 3-0 in area play. We’ve got a chance to get in the playoffs and win the region.”

The next challenge for Demopolis is clear. Cameron, the Tigers’ No. 1 starter, threw 106 pitches Monday night and will not be available when Chilton County comes in for a double-header Thursday. The Tigers must now turn to one of their younger pitchers to keep them in the game.

“We know that we’re not going to be able to run guys out there that can strike out 12 to 15 guys in a ball game,” Ramer said. “What we need them to be able to do is throw strikes, hit their spots and give us a chance.”

Demopolis hosts Chilton County in a double-header Thursday beginning at 4 p.m.