Tigers eliminated by Opelika

By Steve Dukes
Posted 4/30/07

Opelika ended Baldwin County High School’s hopes of a repeat of the 2005 playoff series between the two teams, as the Tigers were swept 8-3 and 13-10 on Friday night in the second-round of play in the AHSAA Class 6A playoffs.

Two years ago the …

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Tigers eliminated by Opelika

Posted

Opelika ended Baldwin County High School’s hopes of a repeat of the 2005 playoff series between the two teams, as the Tigers were swept 8-3 and 13-10 on Friday night in the second-round of play in the AHSAA Class 6A playoffs.

Two years ago the Tigers, after finishing regular season play with a 12-22 record, advanced to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. They began their surprising run with a five-inning, 15-0 no-hit win over the Bulldogs in Opelika.

Apparently a Bulldog, like an elephant, doesn’t forget either. Opelika collected 25 hits in Friday night’s sweep, including 14 in the second game to end the Tigers season.

BCHS finished the season 15-19, while Opelika moved into the quarterfinals with a 26-12 record.

Defensively, Opelika turned back several BCHS scoring threats, stranding eight Tigers in the first game, five of them in scoring position. Baldwin County left six men on base in the second game, half of them at either second or third base.

Designated hitter Zach Blatt, left fielder Conner Meadows and first baseman Drake Sasser had three hits and three runs batted in each for Opelika in the second game. Right fielder Mike Love had his second two-hit game. Sasser homered and doubled, catcher Chance Lawrence doubled and second baseman Matt Middleton tripled.

Middleton, Jonathon Campbell and Love were left on base in the first when BCHS starting pitcher Daniel Robinson induced an infield-fly-rule pop-up from Blatt followed by Michael Motley’s fly out to center field.

The Bulldogs broke through in the second on singles by Meadows and Sasser, and Lawrence’s double. Sasser was thrown out at the plate trying to score on the play.

BCHS evened the count for the only time all night in the third on Dustin Armstrong’s leadoff double, steal of third and and Josh Huggins’ one-out force-out grounder after Cole White walked.

One-out singles by Love and Blatt and Meadows’ two-out, two-run single followed by Sasser’s two-run homer chased Robinson in the third and gave Opelika a 5-1 lead.

Blatt’s two-run single highlighted another four-run rally in the OHS fourth. The Tigers clawed back with a six-run fifth aided by three Bulldogs errors and two no-out wild pitches by reliever Blake Boothe, who recovered to strike out Jeremy Boone, Trace Zarr and Lee Bush to end the threat.

Two-run Opelika rallies in the fifth and sixth proved to be crucial when Baldwin County, playing as the visiting team in the second game, scored three times in the seventh before reliever Chase Dawson came in to get White to ground out to end the game. Two of the BCHS runs were unearned.

Huggins, a junior, senior third baseman Travis Corley and Armstrong, also a senior, had two hits each. Armstrong stroked another double in the seventh to plate the last two BCHS runs. Senior shortstop Cole White doubled in the big Tigers fifth.

Boomer Payne was the winning pitcher, working four innings plus six batters in the fifth. He struck out four Tigers and walked three. Robinson took the loss.

Right-hander Jonathon Campbell scattered eight hits and joined third baseman Brooks Robinson, Middleton, and Love at the top of the order in the Bulldogs’ first-game lineup with two hits each. Campbell struck out six, didn’t walk a batter and hit one in blanking the Tigers until the seventh.

Campbell drove in three runs with an RBI single in a two-run third and a two-run double in a four-run sixth. Robinson had an RBI double in a two-run fourth.

Freshman designated hitter Demetrius Coley and White had two hits each for BCHS. Coley doubled. Starter Dusty Roberts was the losing pitcher. Roberts pitched five-and-one-third innings, allowed eight hits, six runs, struck out three and walked four.