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West Alabama 14U team falls in first round

Tournament host West Alabama could not overcome its own miscues Thursday night as it fell to Union County, N.C. 8-4 in the first round of the Babe Ruth 14U Southeast Regional Tournament.

“I’d say we handed them five runs easily,” West Alabama manager Seth Allgood said of his team’s struggles.

West Alabama committed five errors in seven innings, including a passed ball and two dropped fly balls that directly led to Union County runs. The team also had its difficulties offensively as five West Alabama batters stood frozen for a called third strike on five occasions.

“Five backward Ks just sticks out,” Allgood said of a statistic that masked the lack of talent disparity between the teams. “The difference between that team and us is that when we threw fastballs around the plate, they hit them and we watched them.”

West Alabama also ran itself out of an inning on at least one occasion. In the second frame, trailing 2-1, WA got a leadoff double and appeared poised to even the score when the lead runner got himself caught in a rundown on a ground ball to the third baseman, effectively railroading the rally.

The frame came on the heels of a first inning in which West Alabama parlayed a Brock Montgomery infield single into a run to take a 1-0 lead. After Montgomery started the game off with the hustle hit, Wyatt Hale executed a sacrifice bunt to advance him to second before a Jacob Gunter single accounted for the RBI.

West Alabama then wasted little time handing the advantage back as a leadoff walk came back to bite the hosts in the bottom of the first. Union County got a two-out triple to even the game at 1-1 before the passed ball put UC ahead to stay.

The team from western North Carolina scored two in the third and three in the fourth to push the lead to 7-1 before West Alabama got itself back into the game.

John Anthony Morrison, Matt Eicher and Tyler Oates drew consecutive one-out walks in the top of the sixth to ignite a WA rally. Logan Boone picked up an RBI when he legged out an infield single to force home Morrison. Will Logan then drew a walk, pushing Eicher home. The final West Alabama run came when Oates scored on a Montgomery grounder. Union County added the last run of the game in the sixth inning.

“I’m proud of the way they battled,” Allgood said of his players. “They gave themselves a chance to be in it. And in a game like that, that’s all you can ask for.”

West Alabama will play in an elimination game Saturday at 1 p.m. against Anderson, S.C., who fell to Monroe County 11-1 Friday.