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Huckabee, Collins propel Linden win

The Linden 12U Cal Ripken all-star team picked up its first win in the District 10 tournament Tuesday when it rode a strong performance from Hayden Huckabee to down Demopolis 9-0.

“They did great. What I really believe is that the play to the level of competition they are playing,” Linden head coach Tim Collins said.

Linden scored a pair of runs in the first inning before adding three in the second and two in the third. By the time Huckabee exited the mound after having struck out eight batters over three innings of work, he had been staked to a 7-0 lead. Huckabee surrendered only one hit and one walk. Those hiccups came in the second inning when he walked Jonathan Lins before surrendering a single to Matt Beckum. Huckabee then dug in and struck out the next batter to retire the side.

“I was proud of the pitching,” Collins said. “(Monday) night Hayden threw two innings. He struggled. He was coming of a bad night. Tonight, he had a lot of confidence. And when Hayden is on, he is untouchable.”

Despite not surrendering a hit in Monday night’s 3-2 loss to Butler, Huckabee struggled with control issues stemming from his inability to consistently place his plant foot. No such problems surfaced Tuesday when his confidence carried over to the offensive side of the game. With Linden already leading 5-0 in the third inning, Huckabee stroked a two-run homer to push the lead to 7-0 before handing the ball over to teammate Brad Collins.

The Linden reliever was almost equally as effective, fanning seven batters over three innings of work while surrendering no hits or walks and plunking one hitter.

“I was proud of the pitching,” Collins said. “I was a little disappointed in the bats.”

The bats were at the very least adequate as Linden compiled seven hits over six innings. However, behind a dominant pitching performance that saw Linden hurlers combine to strike out 15 batters over six innings, seven hits were more than enough for the win.

“They threw really well,” Demopolis head coach Rick Dunn said. “We didn’t have many bad at-bats. It was just probably a little faster pitching than what we are used to seeing.”

Daniel Pritchett went 1-for-2 with a run scored for Linden. Weldon Aydelott was 1-for-2 with a double. Collins went 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored. Landon Houlditch was 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Cason Cook was 1-for-2 with a walk and a pair of runs scored. Shade Pritchett went 1-for-3 with a run. Huckabee was 1-for-3 with the round-tripper. Caleb Broadhead scored two runs.

The game pulls Linden to 1-1 in the tournament and sets them up for Thursday’s match-up against Greensboro and Friday’s contest against Sumter County.

“It is a win and that is important in our tournament,” Collins said.

For Demopolis, it was just the start of the journey through the bracket. Demopolis will host Greensboro Wednesday before visiting Livingston Thursday and welcoming Butler Friday.

“I just want them to play like I know they can play,” Dunn said. “They are all-star players.”