UWA baseball drops first in four-game series

Published 11:00 pm Friday, February 1, 2013

NEWBERRY, S.C. – The West Alabama baseball team’s eighth inning comeback surge was thwarted in the bottom of the ninth as the Newberry Wovles claimed the game winning run to win 5-4.

“I thought tonight was a typical first game,” said UWA head coach Gary Rundles.

“We made some mistakes defensively. Offensively I thought we were a little off. Their first pitcher had us chasing some balls in the dirt that we haven’t been doing in the inner squad games. We’re a team with four or five freshman in the lineup and when you’re like that you have to learn to play together. That’s what showed today.”

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West Alabama now starts its season off 0-1 while Newberry improves to 1-0.

Four separate Tigers picked up runs against the Wolves. Senior Josh Podoris led the Tigers at batting with one run, two hits and one RBI.

West Alabama pitcher Barry Meeks pitched through six innings to allow seven hits, two walks four runs and claimed one strikeout.

Brett Ivey entered in the seventh inning to allow only one hit, one run and four strikeouts. He closed out the eighth inning with three straight strike outs to maintain the 4-4 score heading into the ninth.

“I thought Brett pitched tremendously.” Rundles said. “He did exactly what he needed to do and in a very tough situation. He’s a senior and a go-to guy for us and he did exactly what I expected him to do.”

West Alabama had a slow start in the first inning picking up its first error of the season with a drop fly ball by centerfielder Adam Chamblee. The Tigers escaped the inning without allowing a run despite the error.

The Tigers opened the third inning with back-to-back hits by Stuart Terry and Chamblee to put the Tigers in scoring position for the first time. Kyle Caldwell followed up with a sacrifice bunt, but an error by Newberry catcher Chase Goodwin to first basemen Albert Baur sent Terry to the plate and gave the Tigers the first lead at 1-0.

UWA starting pitcher Meeks claimed his first strikeout of the season in the bottom of the fourth against Albert Baur. Moments later Meeks gave up two hits and a walk to load the bases. With two outs he walked Wesley Camp to put Newberry on the board and tie the game at 1-1.

Jermale Paige followed up with a hit to left field to bring in two more runs for Newberry and a 3-1 lead.

The Wolves got the bats swinging again in the bottom of the sixth when Albert Baur singled to leftfield. Two batters later, Chase Goodwin drove him home with a hit to center field putting Newberry up 4-1.

West Alabama responded with Podoris reaching second on a lead off hit to left centerfield. Jack Cockrum followed up with a single through shortstop to advance Podoris to third. Podoris went on to score on a dropped fly ball by Newberry right fielder Alex Kirby to cut the Wolves lead down to 4-2.

The Tigers continued their run into the top of the eighth with Caldwell reaching base on a walk by Newberry pitcher Cole Cromer. After Caldwell stole second and was advanced to third by Jocobby Robinson, Cromer was replaced by Matt Chapman.

Chapman gave up a hit to his first batter, Brett Langham who advanced to second and sent Caldwell home on a dropped fly ball by leftfielder Wesley Camp. Trailing 4-3, Langham was sent home on a single to leftfield by Podoris to tie the game up at 4-4.

In the final inning, Anthony Siler entered into the game to replace Alex Kirby at the plate. Siler singled up the middle and then later advanced to third on a throwing error by Cockrum. The play set up lead-off hitter Jermale Paige, who hit a sacrifice fly to left centerfield and allowed the go ahead winning run.

“I was proud of how our guys fought back after falling behind to give us a chance,” said Rundles.

“We just made a mistake in the ninth to allow a guy to go to third. If you take that away then we’re in extra innings. But I wasn’t unhappy with our performance. We have a lot of room to improve and that’s what we will do.”