Comeback trail finally ends for Brewton 15s
By By BRUCE HIXON-Sports Editor
They were able to overcome delays, a six-run deficit and two elimination games Sunday.
One item the Brewton Babe Ruth 15-year-old all-stars were unable to overcome Monday was Andalusia pitcher Taylor Culbreth.
The lefthanded Culbreth threw six innings of two-hit shutout baseball and then closed things out in Andalusia's 7-2 Area Tournament championship game victory played at L.B. Wallace College.
It was not just Culbreth's arm that beat Brewton. The Andalusia hurler followed Ryan Godwin's double in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run homer that put his team ahead to stay.
Andalusia took advantage of a key Brewton error and an RBI single by Justin Ainsworth to double its lead to 4-0 in the second inning.
Another Brewton error enabled Andalusia to increase its lead to 7-0 in the fifth. Andalusia had the bases full when Godwin lined a single into centerfield. An error on the play allowed three runs to score and Godwin to wind up at third base.
Three of Brewton's five hits came in the seventh inning and led to its only runs. James Freeman and James Hamric both singled and Bobby Freeman reached on an error to load the bases.
The rally lost considerable steam when Derek Busby hit into a double play although James Freeman scored on the play to break up Culbreth's shutout. Seth Holland kept the game alive with an RBI double, but Culbreth caught Will Waters looking to end the game.
See 15s Page 7A
James Hamric showed a courageous effort by taking the ball again Monday and went the first three and one-third innings, but took the loss. Hamric had thrown a complete game the day before.
Brewton 000 000 2 – 2 5 3
Andalusia 220 030 X – 7 9 3
Brewton 15, Andalusia 10
Telling a team they could come back in their situation and win is one thing. Convincing them is another.
Facing a 7-1 deficit after one inning in an elimination game, Brewton 15s coach John Nelson rallied his troops for a stunning 15-10 victory over Andalusia in Sunday night's first championship round.
The game started four hours behind schedule and nearly 10 hours since Brewton's game against Covington County earlier in the day ended.
"It was tough keeping our focus because we just had to sit and wait and wait. I think that may have been part of the reason why we started so slowly," Brewton coach John Nelson said. "At the same time, we knew despite the slow start we had a lot of ball game left and if we could peck away at them and hold them down, we could make a run at them."
After Aaron Nelson's RBI single in the top of the first inning gave Brewton a 1-0 lead, Andalusia roughed up Brewton pitcher Casey Butts in the bottom of the first inning for two doubles, a single, a walk and two costly errors. That uprising in one-third of an inning put Brewton in a 5-1 hole and ended Butts' day on the mound.
Reliever Bobby Freeman was able to restore some order, but not before an RBI double by Nathan Shirig and an RBI triple by Jeffery Etheridge built Andalusia's lead to 7-1.
Over the next five innings though Freeman was able to plus most of the holes in the dam, as he allowed just two additional hits and one run to go along with seven strikeouts.
Although Brewton got an RBI double by James Freeman in the third and an RBI groundout by Seth Holland and an RBI single by Will Waters in the top of the fourth, it still faced an 8-4 deficit headed into the top of the fifth.
Through four innings Andalusia starting pitcher Joe Kyser had shown solid control with only a couple of walks issued. Kyser's control broke down in the top of the fifth when he walked the first four batters he faced although he was able to pick one of those off first base.
The walks finally started to bite Kyser when Holland lined a two-run single and Waters drilled a two-run double that suddenly tied the game at 8-8.
Kyser walked the next two batters he faced and that led to his departure, but reliever James Hogg fared little better with his control. Hogg walked the first batter he faced, Aaron Nelson, to force in Holland with the go-ahead run. James Freeman drilled a two-run single to make it 11-8. After James Hamric walked, the eight of nine walks Brewton received in the inning, Bobby Freeman hit an RBI groundout that capped off the eight-run rally and put Brewton up 12-8.
James Freeman added a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Waters picked up his fourth and fifth RBIs of the game in the seventh with a two-run single that all of a sudden had Brewton up 15-8.
"All of a sudden their pitcher just lost his control and we took advantage of it. We also came up with a lot of timely hits," Nelson said.
Brewton 101 281 2 – 15 13 3
Andalusia 700 100 2 – 10 9 1
Brewton 12, Covington County 5
Brewton fought off elimination and avenged a first-round loss to Covington County at the same time with a 12-5 win earlier Sunday.
Covington County edged Brewton 3-1 in Friday's first-round contest, but Brewton quickly jumped on its opponent in the bottom of the first inning for four runs and never trailed. Chris Griffin and James Freeman both had RBI singles in that first inning uprising.
After Covington County clawed its way back to within 4-3 in the top of the third inning, Brewton matched its opponent's three-run rally in the top half of the inning with one of its own in the bottom half of the frame that extended the lead to 7-3. A solo homerun by Jake Smith at the start of the inning triggered the rally.
Aaron Nelson had a key RBI single in a two-run fourth inning and James Freeman lined a two-run double in the sixth to help put the game away.
That was more than enough support for James Hamric, who scattered nine hits with 10 strikeouts in a complete game performance.
"We still didn't have a lot of hits, but the hits we did get were all in key situations plus their pitcher was wild at times and gave us some walks," Brewton coach John Nelson said. "Hamric threw a great game for us. We made a few errors behind him that hurt, but he was able to work his way through it."
Covington Co. 003 110 0 – 5 9 5
Brewton 403 203 X – 12 7 4