E.A. Sports Today

Indians clicking

Ohatchee first baseman Dover returns to lineup, delivers two hits for second game in a row in Indians’ county tournament win

Blake Buckelew gave Ohatchee a solid start, striking out 10 in six innings and not allowing an earned run. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Todd Dover’s first experience as a varsity starter didn’t go well. He and Ohatchee coach Blake Jennings are hoping things are a lot better the second time around.

So far, they have been.

Dover, a junior first baseman, was lifted after two ineffective games at the start of the year, but in the two games since his return he has been on fire, delivering four hits, including another two Friday that helped the Indians beat JCA 9-2 in the Calhoun County Tournament at Choccolocco Park.

Junior first baseman Todd Dover worked his way back into the Ohatchee lineup and has four hits in the two games since his return. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

“We’re always looking for kids to step up and this big guy right here stepped up,” Jennings said. “We’ve been looking for it for two years to find that spark for Todd Dover. We talked about a week and a half ago about what’s that spark that’s gonna light up under your butt to make you get after it.”

Taking him out of the lineup certainly got his attention.

Dover started the Indians’ first two games. He was 0-for-2 in the opener against Pleasant Valley and was DH’d for in the second game against Jacksonville. The minute he saw he wasn’t in the lineup for the next set of games, last weekend’s doubleheader against White Plains and Gaston, he knew he had to get on his game.

“Coach Jennings sends out the lineup the night before every game,” Dover said. “He told us if you ain’t in the starting lineup work your butt off and be in it the next day. I took that heart and started working my butt off to get the starting job back. Starting was fun. I don’t want to go back to not playing again.”

He was reinserted into the lineup earlier this week after his replacement, Josh Lipham, suffered a broken finger. In his first game back Dover delivered two hits against Lincoln. On Friday, he singled in his first at-bat, had a stand-up double leading off the fourth inning, and a bases-loaded walk in the fifth.

“I realized I had to grow up and play ball,” Dover said. “Those first two games were the first time I ever started; I was so nervous. Coach Jennings said it was almost like the lights were too bright for me. After that I had to change something to make something click and now it’s starting to click.”

Things clicked for the Indians early in this one. They scored two in the first on Kevin Williamson’s RBI triple and Grayson Alward’s sacrifice fly and extended the lead with three more in the second.

Blake Buckelew, meanwhile, wasn’t letting anything by on the mound. He pitched the first six innings, giving up five hits. He struck out 10, walked none and gave up two unearned runs in the fifth.

The Indians play second-seeded Alexandria Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

“That spark got there,” Jennings said. “Lets hope he keeps it up tomorrow against the Valley Cubs.”

To see a photo gallery from this game, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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