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Linden takes two in first day

Linden entered the Cal Ripken 12U Southeast Regional Tournament at the Demopolis Sports-Plex with a goal of winning one game. That goal was realized before noon on the first day when Linden defeated the team from the the Bahamas 5-4 with a sixth-inning rally.

“We said our goal was to win a game in regionals,” Tim Collins, who coached the team when it competed in the Southeast Regional at Lakeland, Fla. in 2010, said. “We went to Lakeland last year and came up short.”

Linden’s goal was realized largely on the strength of its pitching staff. Brad Collins worked a total of three innings, striking out eight batters in the process. Lawson Smyly and Gavin Tate combined to fan six over a total of three innings of work, giving Linden pitcher 14 strikeouts in six innings.

Offensively, Weldon Aydelott provided the big boost. Aydelott went 2-for-3 in the game, homering twice with three RBIs along the way. Collins and Smyly each went 1-for-3 with a run scored. Landon Houlditch went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Austen Day went 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Liinden returned to the field several hours later to take on the team from Mara, N.C. Linden picked up a 7-5 win in that contest, getting 10 strikeouts from its pitchers over seven innings. The bad news for Linden came when Collins was forced to exit after working two-thirds of an inning. The team later learned its ace pitcher had sustained a significant elbow injury and would be relegated to playing first base for the duration of the tournament.

“Everybody knows that pitching is the key to baseball,” Tim Collins said of his team’s Thursday success. “Brad has been the ace. I rode him a little bit too much.”

The win over Mara saw the heroics again come from the bat of Aydelott, who homered in all three of his at-bats, racking up five RBIs in the game.

Tate went 1-for-2 with two runs scored. Collins was 3-for-3 with a run and a pair of doubles. Houlditch was 1-for-3 with a run. Smyly finished the game 1-for-3.

Tate toted the load on the mound, working three innings and fanning a trio of North Carolina batters. Smyly struck out four over two innings of work. Collins fanned two over two-thirds of an inning while Houlditch struck out a batter in a third of an inning.

The Linden momentum shifted significantly in day two of the tournament as the team lost 13-1 to South Daytona. Tim Collins admitted that the loss of Brad took an emotional toll on his team.

“Facing Daytona, who is the favorite in this, (Linden players) wanted their ace pitcher,” the head coach said.

Linden got its lone run of the game in the second inning when Smyly scored on an RBI double by Cobb.

Linden will play again Saturday at 5:30 p.m.