Last chance to win area eludes Brewton 14s
By By BRUCE HIXON-Sports Editor
It was almost like the coyote chasing the roadrunner.
Every time the Brewton Babe Ruth 14-year-old all-stars made a run at their opponent, Covington County answered with a surge to pull away.
Covington County's final surge wrapped up an 11-5 victory as well as a state tournament berth in Monday's Area Tournament championship game played at L.B. Wallace College in Andalusia.
Brewton had knocked off Covington County 3-1 in Friday's opening round of the tournament, but Covington County won three straight elimination games to claim the tournament. The final two of those games came at Brewton's expense.
Brewton's final chance to win the crown was hindered by five errors committed by its defense and 12 free passes (11 walks, one hit batter) issued by its pitching staff.
A run-scoring error on a ball hit by Clay Stacks, an RBI single by Ethan King and a bases loaded walk to Kyle Nolen put Covington County up 3-0 in the top of the first inning against Brewton pitcher Justin Payne.
Brewton was able to get those runs back in the bottom of the third, as Taylor Berry and Jacob Cannon scored on wild pitches and Corey Williams had an RBI single.
A key infield error opened the door for Covington County to score three unearned runs in the top of the fourth inning to break the 3-3 deadlock. Emory Rabren made Brewton pay with a two-run double and reliever Sam Sharpe was greeted by an RBI single by King that made it 6-3.
Brewton was able to peck away at that lead over the next couple of innings. Jamar Travis had an RBI fielder's choice in the fourth inning that plated Mabry Cook and Mathieu singled home Tyler Cross in the fifth that cut Covington County's advantage to 6-5.
While Brewton was unable to get over the hump in its attempt to rally, Covington County for all intent slammed the door shut when it plated five runs in the top of the seventh to stretch its cushion to 11-5.
Nolen and King supplied the key hits with two-run singles, while Stacks walked with the bases loaded.
Covington Co. 300 300 5 – 11 8 0
Brewton 003 110 0 – 5 5 5
Covington County 8, Brewton 6
Brewton missed a chance to close out the tournament Sunday when it lost to Covington County 8-6.
The game was marred by both controversy and a lengthy protest delay.
Brewton wiped out what had been a 6-2 deficit in the bottom of the fifth inning and momentarily thought it had taken the lead when the key play in the game occurred.
With the bases loaded and one out and the game tied at 6-6, Brewton's Tyler Nall hit a ball into centerfield. Covington County outfielder Shane Turner had the ball land in his glove. As Turner reached for the ball to relay it back in, the ball slipped out of his hand and fell to the ground. The second base umpire ruled it a dropped flyball while the home plate umpire initially ruled a catch.
The confusion in calls led to
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confusion on the basepaths. Turner picked up the loose ball and fired it to third baseman Matthew Bond for a forceout. Bond then threw to second baseman Ethan King for another forceout and what turned into an inning-ending double play.
Thinking it was a catch, Brewton baserunner John Mathieu tagged up from third base and scored what he thought was the go-ahead run before the double play was completed.
Being closest to the play, the second base umpire's call of error stood. So did the double play and the run was taken off the scoreboard.
Brewton coach Bob DeFrancisco immediately protested the call. After a delay, officials ruled it was a dropped flyball and the two forceouts constituted a double play and nullified the run. Thus, the game remained tied at 6-6.
That was not the only call DeFrancisco questioned. In the top of the second inning with Covington County up 2-1, Covington County baserunner Clay Stacks was caught in a rundown between first and second base. Brewton first baseman Mabry Cook took a swipe tag at Stacks as he tried to get back to first base, but Stacks was ruled safe. Given a second life on the basepaths, Stacks later scored on an RBI groundout by Tyler Yeberton.
Brewton climbed uphill on the scoreboard most of the game. It surrendered a pair of runs in the top of the first inning although Brewton got one of those runs back in the bottom of the first inning when Jacob Cannon scored on a wild pitch. Brewton also pulled within a run in the bottom of the fourth when Tyler Nall's RBI single plated Corey Williams to make it 3-2.
Down 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Brewton benefited from a run-scoring wild pitch and RBI singles by Cannon, Mathieu and Simmons to pull even at 6-6.
After the controversial end to the fifth, Covington County took advantage of an errant pickoff attempt, an error after a walk, a single and an RBI single by Kyle Nolen to regain the lead for good with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth.
As a whole, Brewton committed six errors, struck out nine times (six caught looking) and lost two runners on the bases.
"I felt the calls took the game away from us. We lost a lot of our focus after the fifth inning call," DeFrancisco said. "At the same time, our errors really hurt us and at times we weren't aggressive enough at the plate with the called strikeouts. I can live with losing runners on the bases because that's our game, to be aggressive."
Justin Payne took the loss in relief for Brewton.
Covington Co. 210 032 0 – 8 12 2
Brewton 100 140 0 – 6 8 6
Brewton 10, Opp 3
Brewton earned its spot in the championship game Saturday when it downed Opp 10-3.
Brewton scored in every inning although two unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning had Opp in front 2-1.
A three-run rally in the top of the second inning courtesy of an RBI triple by Mabry Cook and RBI singles by Taylor Berry and John Mathieu put Brewton up 4-2. It was a lead it would not relinquish.
Sam Sharpe's RBI groundout in the third took the lead to 5-2, while Corey Williams' RBI double and Houston Simmons' RBI single in the fourth extended the lead to 7-2.
Jacob Cannon contributed an RBI double in the fifth and Williams, who had three RBIs in the game, matched it in the sixth. Berry had an RBI fielder's choice in the seventh that accounted for Brewton's final run.
Sharpe went the first four innings and allowed two hits and two unearned runs for the win.
"We came out and hit the ball real well. Our pitching, as usual, was good. We did make a couple of errors out in the field and gave them two early runs, but otherwise we played well in that area," Brewton coach Bob DeFrancisco said.
Brewton 131 211 1 – 10 14 2
Opp 200 001 0 – 3 5 1