After scoring four runs in the sixth inning, the third-seeded Valley Cubs defeated second-seed Jacksonville 6-5 in the Calhoun County baseball tournament semifinals.
“We didn’t give in, and that’s what we talked about before the game,” said Alexandria coach Andy Shaw, whose team will face Oxford in today’s finals. “We’re not going to be the two-run-homer type of team. We just have to keep on pecking away when we can and take advantage of that. It was kind of a tale of two games.”
The first part of the game was all Jacksonville. After Alexandria (7-2) scored a run in the top of the first, Jacksonville batted 10 in the bottom half, knocking out Valley Cub starter Cody Dodd after two-thirds of an inning.
The Golden Eagles (5-1) started the game with four straight hits, including a triple to deep center by Tanner Sims that scored two runs.
“We hit it good in the first inning,” Golden Eagles coach David Deerman said. “We just couldn’t hit it good afterward.”
The inning didn’t end until Shaw replaced Dodd with Justin Whitley. Then Jacksonville’s hitting stopped.
The Alexandria comeback didn’t come quickly despite Whitley’s dominance on the mound. A lone run in the second inning was an afterthought as the Valley Cubs left two runners on base for the second straight inning.
Before the game ended, they left 14 runners on.
But, before the game ended, the Alexandria offense also did just enough to get Whitley the win he deserved.
“Justin Whitley just came in and shut them down,” Shaw said. “Coming in after Cody and being able to throw left-handed, they just didn’t center it up as much.”
The Valley Cubs managed one hit in the sixth inning, but it was enough combined with the Jacksonville errors. After a single by Ethan Curvin scored Johnny Watts, the Golden Eagles made errors on the next three plays.
“We just didn’t make plays,” Deerman said. “We had good enough pitching to win, we just couldn’t make plays.”
An error allowed Justice Owens to score, making it a 5-4 game, still in Jacksonville’s favor.
Two more runs scored when Alexandria made an error on a Colton Bundrum, allowing Jake Whiting and Logan Doss to come home for a 6-5 lead.
“They had a lot of errors that helped us out, but we put the ball in play,” Shaw said. “I don’t even know how many hits we had.”
With the Golden Eagles unable to hit Whitley in the bottom of the sixth and seventh, Alexandria closed out the win.
Whitley earned the victory, throwing 6 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and striking out three. B.J. Murphy got the loss for Jacksonville, throwing only two innings, but allowing four unearned runs on three hits.
Curvin and Whitley had two-hit nights for Alexandria as Bell and Shed Long had two hits for Jacksonville.
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star