Demopolis rides pitching to key wins

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Demopolis rebounded from an inauspicious start to the season that featured a pair of blowout road losses to Tuscaloosa County to round out its opening week at 3-2. The winning streak culminated Saturday when the Tigers downed Class 6A Wetumpka 7-3 before dispatching of McAdory 7-2.

The first win of the day came behind the strength of a complete game performance from senior Chase Cameron, who scattered five walks, six hits and three runs while striking out five Indian batters.

“It was huge for our kids,” Demopolis head coach Ben Ramer said. “We’ve been playing (Wetumpka) the last few years. Our kids are familiar with theirs. Our kids were excited about playing them.”

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Cameron also helped himself offensively, going 2-for-3 with a run scored in the game. Be Pettus went 1-for-3 with a run. Kole Thrasher was 1-for-4 with a run. Payne Hasty put together a 1-for-2 day with two runs scored. William Stewart went 1-for-2 with a run scored. Daniel Sturdivant went 1-for-3 while Alex Sturdivant and Louis Stuedeman each scored a run.

“We enjoyed the first one and then talked about it as a team,” Ramer said of the aftermath of the day’s first victory. Ramer said the coaching staff stressed to the team the importance of refocusing quickly for the second game of the day, citing the number of double-headers the Tigers will compete in this year as they prepare for region play and the double-header format of the state playoffs.

“That’s something that we’re looking for out of this team is maturity,” Ramer said. “We’ve got to have kids who are able to reset themselves. I was glad that we could do that early in the season.”

Once the Tigers hit the reset button, Stewart turned took to the mound to put together a gem against McAdory.

The junior worked five and a third innings, allowing only one earned run while walking one and scattering four hits, striking out 10 in the process.

“He has been like that throughout the preseason,” Ramer said of Stewart. “He has looked real sharp.

“It was a great performance. It was what we expected from him to be honest.”

When Stewart left the mound, McAdory batters found little relief against Demopolis reliever Pettus. The senior, who coaches hope to cast as a closer this season, struck out four of the five batters he faced over one and two-thirds of an inning.

“We want to be able to use him in a closer role,” Ramer said.

“If we can get into the sixth and seventh inning with a lead, we want to give him the ball and let him get us home.”

Pettus’ late-game dominance on the mound complemented the work he did at the plate in the game. He went 3-for-4 in the contest while scoring three runs. His first at-bat of the game saw him launch a home run off the scoreboard in left field.

Thrasher went 1-for-1 with a run scored. Hasty was 2-for-4 with a double and a run. Cameron went 1-for-3. Stewart was 2-for-4. Stuedemen went 1-for-3 with a run. Alex Sturdivant also scored a run in the game.

As much as the offense improved on the day after turning in a one-hit, six-walk performance against Sweet Water Thursday, Ramer pointed to strong starting pitching as the bell cow that will lead Demopolis through the season.

“We’ve got to have quality starting pitching in order to be successful,” Ramer said.

His team will return to the field Friday when it travels to Bibb County. The Tigers will then host Meridian (Miss.) and Northview of Dothan Saturday.