E.A. Sports Today

Meek ousts Donoho

Tigers pound ball in opener, score late to complete sweep; Falcons freshman impressive in nightcap loss

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Donoho coach Steve Gendron gave his team plenty of heads up that the team it was about to play were real aggressive hitters and not the same one it had beaten in the playoffs the season before.

The sixth-ranked Tigers showed the type hitters in the opener Gendron wants his team to be and came to life late in the nightcap, sweeping the Falcons out of the Class 1A playoffs Friday, 11-0 and 2-1 in eight innings.

Meek jumped on top of the opener with a two-run double by Dex Woodard in the first and a three-run homer by Jacob Price in the third, and won the nightcap with two late runs to spoil an impressive outing by freshman pitcher Barry Billings.

“They’re a good hitting team; they hit the fastball,” Gendron said after Game One. “That’s something I’ve been preaching to my guys all year. We kept taking fastballs for strikes. The first time through (the lineup) he (Meek starter Paul Beatty) was all fastballs, the second time through he started spinning that breaking ball.

“We were throwing strikes and they were ready to hit the fastball. They were very aggressive offensively. That’s something I try to preach to our guys.”

Justin Lane and freshman Billings hooked up in an old-fashioned pitchers duel in the nightcap. Both pitchers went the distance.

Lane held the Falcons to four hits, while striking out seven. Billings gave up one hit into the seventh and struck out four.

“Billings had command of all three of his pitches,” Gendron said. “He pitched great. He has an advanced mound presence for his age and it will serve him very well down the road.”

Billings looked to be in line for a shutout victory to extend the series, but Meek got to him late. The veteran Tigers (20-10) tied the game in the seventh on a leadoff double by Lane and a one-out single to center by Dexter Woodard, then won it in the bottom of the eighth on Lane’s one-out single.

“What I take away from this is that our team showed great resiliency coming back after getting blown out the first game to a 2-1 nailbiter in Game Two that went extra innings,” Gendron said. “The seniors can be proud of the fact they battled back in the second game and the young guys can hang their hat on the fact they hung in there. That shows how mature they are becoming as ballplayers.”

On a side note, former Gendron protégé Chad Girodo got called up by the Toronto Blue Jays Friday and in his major league debut gave up one hit in two shutout innings of relief on 27 pitches. He was the first reliever behind ineffective starter Aaron Sanchez in an eventual 8-5 loss to Oakland.

“He was on our first (Excel Baseball) summer team and lives with me and my wife in the offseason,” Gendron said before Girodo pitched. “We’re really proud of him. Hopefully he gets through tonight and stays in the big leagues forever.”

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