E.A. Sports Today

Frantic finish

Confusion ensued on the final play of the game, but the bottom line is Wellborn rallies to beat Pleasant Valley

Blake Hanson loads up in the batters box to take a big swing. Hanson drove in the Panthers’ tying and what became the winning runs. On the cover, the Pleasant Valley coaches round up their players to restore order on their sideline after the game’s confusing finish. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — The most intriguing game in the opening round of the Calhoun County Baseball Tournament had the most interesting of endings.

While the game-ending double play created equal amounts of anger and confusion, there was no confusion about the winner.

Ninth-seeded Wellborn fought back from an early deficit to take the lead then held on through a wild finish to beat No. 8 Pleasant Valley, 6-5. The Panthers now take on top-seeded Oxford Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Everyone left the park talking about the finish of this one.

Pleasant Valley entered the seventh trailing 6-3 and loaded the bases against Wellborn right-hander Brandt Denham with no out. A run scored on a balk, the Panthers got an out and then Denham reloaded the bases by hitting Dalton Payne.

Then came the play the created the controversy.

It started when PV’s Tristan Salster lofted a fly ball behind the first base bag that nobody caught. The infield fly rule was in effect, but no one heard an umpire’s declaration. Salster was out but the runners could advance at their own risk and they tried.

With the ball down the Panthers went for the force at second, which was not in effect. Thinking they had gotten the third out they raced off the field to celebrate and the PV runners kept moving.

The lead runner scored making it 6-5, but the Panthers rushed back on the field and third baseman Brandon Swann tagged Payne between second and third for the final out ending the game but not without a rush of emotions.

“I was confused, real confused,” Denham said. “Everybody was yelling at me to throw it to third, so I just threw it over there. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into it. I just threw it over there.”

“It was all a mess,” Wellborn second baseman Blake Hanson said.

The Panthers rallied from a 3-1 deficit with three in the third. Hanson’s sacrifice fly tied the game 3-3 and Jacob Shears’ RBI triple gave them the lead. Hanson delivered a two-run single in the fourth to push the lead to 6-3.

In the Raiders’ mind it shouldn’t have come down to that. They took advantage of some loose Wellborn defense early in the game to open an early lead and then relaxed. They had only one hit between the second and seventh innings. As it was, they had only three hits through the first six innings.

“We have a philosophy that we try to run our program by that if you leave it in the hands of the official you’ll lose every time,” PV coach Chris Youngman said. “We just didn’t take care of business. You can’t go from the second inning to the seventh and not score runs and we left it in somebody else’s hands.

“We didn’t take care of our business, so we’re not going to blame the umpires. We’re not going to blame anybody. If don’t wait until the seventh inning to do our job we don’t get into that predicament to begin with. We haven’t learned how to finish yet. We’ve just got to learn to put the foot to the gas and don’t let off. We pump the breaks too much.”

Pleasant Valley 120 000 2 — 5 5 3
Wellborn 013 200 0 — 6 6 4

WP: Brandt Denham. LP: Jackson Almaroad. 2B: Drew Bonds (PV), Brandt Denham 2 (W). 3B: Jacob Shears (W).

Wellborn’s Ked Harris hits the third base bag and a stop sign during one of the Panthers’ rallies. Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

You must be logged in to post a comment Login