Eight is enough as Eagles stun Flomaton
Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2006
By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
The game had already lasted more than three hours. The evening chill was getting more intense by the minute. They were down seven runs headed into the last inning.
Those were all factors that would have made it easy for the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles to give up on Monday's game at Flomaton.
Instead W.S. Neal strung together a comeback for the ages, as it rallied with eight
runs in the top of the seventh inning to stun the Hurricanes 16-15.
Flomaton, which dropped its third decision of the season to W.S. Neal, made four errors in the top of the seventh inning. That included three straight with two outs, which kept the game alive. Three of those four errors were committed by the Hurricanes' second baseman.
Josh Carter belted the Blue Eagles' third homerun of the game to lead off the seventh inning. Jacob Cannon walked, but Josh Danley hit into a fielder's choice. Justin Smith drew a walk from Flomaton reliever Johnny Mize, who was in his fifth inning of work. W.S. Neal's first break in the inning came when Eric Howell's groundball was booted by the second baseman for an error. That allowed Danley to score, and made it 15-10. After Spencer Williamson singled, the rally lost some fizzle when Jared Cooper hit a sacrifice fly that plated Justin Smith. Cooper's flyball cut the gap to 15-11, but it was also the second out.
It appeared the game would end when Jake Smith hit a flyball into rightfield, but it was dropped. That sent Howell home and made it 15-12.
The Hurricanes got another chance to close the door when Whitney Qualls hit a grounder to the second baseman, but he booted it for another error. The play allowed Williamson to score, and the lead was down to 15-13. Suddenly the tying runs were on base.
Once again it appeared the game would end when Carter, who started the inning with the homer, hit another grounder to the second baseman. Again, it was misplayed for another error.
With the bases now full, Cannon lined a two-run single into centerfield that tied the game at 15-15. Danley followed with a little dribbler that just got past Mize for an infield hit. It also drove in the go-ahead run.
The Blue Eagles (14-3) survived a game where their five combined pitchers allowed 13 hits, 10 walks and three hit batsmen.
The fourth of those, Jimmie Jones, worked one and one-third innings for the win. The lone pitcher who got through his stint unscathed was the last one, Justin Smith. Smith struck out the side and set the Hurricanes down in order in the seventh.
While Justin Smith ended the game with an inning of scoreless relief, he began it with a solo homerun.
W.S. Neal starter Josey Brown could not make it out of the first inning, and was touched for a three-run homer by Scott Walton in a four-run frame that put the Hurricanes up 4-3.
Howell's first homer of the season, a grand slam, enabled the Blue Eagles to take a 5-4 lead in the top of the second inning.
W.S. Neal extended that lead to 7-4 in the top of the third on a sacrifice fly by Carter and an RBI single by Cannon. The Hurricanes scored three runs in the bottom of the third off reliever James Freeman to tie the game at 7-7.
Flomaton moved back in front, 8-7, with a run in the bottom of the fourth, gave up the lead when W.S. Neal tied it at 8-8 in the top of the fifth, and took the lead again when it scored four times in the bottom of the fifth to go up 12-8. The Hurricanes scored three more times in the sixth to take what seemed to be a safe 15-8 lead.
W.S. Neal, which played at Jay (Fla.) Tuesday, will try to lock down a playoff berth Friday when it hosts Clarke County at 4 p.m.
W.S. Neal 142 010 8 – 16 15 2
Flomaton 403 143 0 – 15 13 5