Florala powers comeback victory over Blue Eagles
By By SCOTT COOPER – Sports Writer
The W.S. Neal Blue Eagles entered their March 27 home game against the Florala Tigers focusing on snapping a two-game losing streak.
After a slow start that saw them fall behind, the Blue Eagles battled back to overtake the lead only to see the Tigers mount a late comeback that allowed them to exit with the victory.
With the loss, Neal's season record stands at 8-6.
Although not getting a base hit in the top of the first inning, Florala took advantage of Blue Eagle defensive mistakes to draw first blood. A walk and passed ball put a baserunner in scoring position before a Neal fielding error moved the runner home for a 1-0 Tiger lead.
The Blue Eagles answered with a run in the bottom of the inning. Cody Anthony drew a leadoff walk before moving to third on consecutive passed balls. Paul Crabtree then continued his good hitting of late by lacing an RBI single that tied the game, 1-1.
In the top of the third inning, the Tigers once again got on the scoreboard without the benefit of a base hit. A walk coupled with a stolen base placed a runner in scoring position and then two straight passed balls moved him across the plate while giving Florala a 2-1 advantage.
The Tigers committed two errors in the bottom of the fourth that contributed to Neal overtaking the lead, but the Blue Eagle bats also came alive in the three-run rally. Crabtree's single got things going before Jared Cooper's RBI double knotted the score at 2-2. A Patrick Sorrells' sacrifice fly accounted for another run and lifted Neal to its first lead, 3-2. Sorrells scored later in the inning on Brad Jerkins' squeeze bunt that pushed the Blue Eagles further ahead, 4-2.
Florala proved they would not give in to the Blue Eagles' resurgence. Scoring a run in both the top of the sixth and seventh innings, the Tigers tied the game at 4-4 as the Blue Eagles came to bat in the bottom of the seventh.
Having loaded the bases in the last half of the seventh and with only one out, it appeared Neal was in excellent position to secure the victory. However, the game proceeded into extra innings after the Blue Eagle bats failed to respond with the big hit needed to put the wraps on the win.
In the top of the eighth, the Neal defense retired the first two Florala batters before a solo home run gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead and forced the Blue Eagles to score in order to extend the game.
After giving up a leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth, the Florala pitcher simply shot-down Neal's efforts at another comeback. Throwing nothing but heat, the Tiger reliever recorded three consecutive strikeouts that ended the Blue Eagle hopes for a victory.
Offensive leaders for Neal were Paul Crabtree, 2-for-4 with one RBI and Jared Cooper, 1-for-3 with one RBI.