Eagles magic number: one win

Published 4:54 pm Monday, April 10, 2006

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
They may not have been able to secure a playoff berth, but the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles made their job a lot easier Friday when they downed the visiting Straughn Tigers 9-2.
That victory combined with Clarke County's 3-2 loss to T.R. Miller Friday means the Blue Eagles (13-3 overall and 3-2 in Class 3A Area 1) must beat Clarke County only once when the teams hook up in East Brewton this Friday in order to gain the second and final playoff berth out of Area 1. Clarke County (2-3 in Area play) will have to beat W.S. Neal twice in order to qualify.
The Blue Eagles got a complete game two-hitter from Whitney Qualls, who improved his season record to 6-0.
W.S. Neal also had some big individual games at the plate. The biggest belonged to Eric Howell, who collected three hits and drove in two runs. Spencer Williamson added two hits and also drove in a pair.
The Blue Eagles won a wild slugfest Tuesday when they outlasted the host Monroe County Tigers 15-14.
W.S. Neal, which beat Monroe County 10-5 eight days earlier at the W.S. Neal Invitational, overcame 10 errors and a five-run deficit.
The Blue Eagles trailed 8-3 after four innings when they erupted for six runs in the top of the fifth to grab a 9-8 lead.
An RBI double by Justin Smith and an RBI single by Eric Howell preceded a two-run homer by Spencer Williamson that tied the game at 8-8.
Josh Carter's RBI single later in the inning plated Jake Smith to put W.S. Neal on top.
Monroe County stormed right back in the bottom of the fifth with a four-run rally that put the Tigers back in front 12-9.
A two-run error on a ball hit by Williamson in the top of the sixth opened the door for a five-run W.S. Neal rally that put the Blue Eagles back in front 14-12. The Blue Eagles got those five runs despite the fact they had only one hit, an RBI single by Whitney Qualls.
Justin Smith's RBI single in the top of the seventh extended that lead to 15-12. It turned out the Blue Eagles needed that run. Two singles, two walks and a fielder's choice in the bottom of the seventh enabled Monroe County to score twice and cut W.S. Neal's lead to 15-14.
Qualls, who had just taken over for winning pitcher and reliever Jimmie Jones earlier in the seventh, got the final two outs to preserve the win.
Williamson wound up with four hits and four RBIs to lead the Blue Eagles, while Justin Smith had a pair of hits and an RBI.
W.S. Neal travels to Flomaton Monday where it plays a junior varsity game at 4 p.m. and the varsity contest at 6 p.m.

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