Hodge's homerun keys 4-2 win

Published 12:53 pm Monday, April 14, 2008

By By Adam Robinson – Sports Editor
Brewton, East Brewton and Chicago may not have a lot of things in common with each other, but on Friday afternoon at Blue Eagle field we may have found something in common.
Chicago is known as the “Windy City” and on Friday, wind played a huge factor in deciding the class 4A area two championship between the T.R. Miller Tigers and the W.S. Neal Eagles.
With the Tigers holding a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, W.S. Neal Eagle Jake Hodge sent a fly ball up in the wind and the wind carried the ball out of the ball field in right field for a two-run homerun. The play gave the Eagles a 3-2 lead over the Tigers. The Eagles would add a key insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a Reid Johnson single to take a 4-2 lead.
Starting and winning pitcher for the Eagles, Williams Shell, went out in the top of the seventh inning and collected the final three outs of the game. That effort gave the Eagles a 4-2 win over rival T.R. Miller and a claim to the class 4A area two championship. They will advance to the playoffs that begin Friday against Thomasville at home.
The win improved the Eagles to 13-10 on the season while the Tigers dropped to 8-13 overall and 3-3 in area play.
W.S. Neal Eagle head coach Coy Campbell agreed with with Hodge about the homerun.
Friday's win was the first area championship for the Eagles since 2002.
In the game, Will Waters got things rolling for the Tigers with a one out double, but the Tigers failed to plate any runs across the board.
For the Eagles, in the bottom of the first inning, pitcher William Shell launched a oneout homerun for the Eagles that got up in the wind and carried out of the park to give the Eagles an early 1-0 lead.
In the top of the second inning, the Tigers threatened to get their first run and tie the game at 1-1 when Wes Dickey reached by a walk and then was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Garrett Robinson.
Dickey then stole third base, but was stuck there as Robert Knowles grounded out for the Tigers.
The bottom of the second inning saw the bases loaded for the Eagles with two outs when a passed ball shot by Tiger catcher Seth Holland. Holland quickly regrouped and tossed to pitcher Derek Busby to record the third out of the inning.
In the top of the third for the visiting Tigers, Corey Williams lead off the inning with a double for the Tigers and scored on a Robinson single to tie the game at 1-1.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Tigers took the lead at 2-1 when Waters drove the ball down the first baseline for a single. The ball skipped by W.S. Neal right fielder Jake Hunsinger and allowed Waters to score on an inside-the-park homerun and grab a one-run lead.
The lead would be short-lived for the Tigers. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Hunsinger made up for the misplay on the ball and led the inning with a hit. But a Tiger throwing error by John Mathieu sent Hunsinger to second.
Hodge would make the Tigers pay for the error as he hit a two-run homerun for the Eagles and gave them a 3-2 lead.
The Tigers failed to score in the top of the sixth while the Eagles benefited from a Reid Johnson single that scored Tyler Nall. Nall had reached on a hit-by-pitch to claim a 4-2 lead and the win.
William Shell earned the win on the mound for the Eagles by going seven innings and allowing two runs (one earned), six hits and three walks while striking out eight.
Derek Busby took the loss for the Tigers on the mound. Busby went six innings and allowed six hits and four runs (three earned) while walking two and striking out six.
Hodge led the Eagles offensively with a 2-for-2 showing and two RBIs. Johnson and Shell were 1-for-3 with a RBI each. Tyler Cross was 1-for-3 for the game.
For the Tigers, Robinson was 2-for-3 with one RBI. Waters was 2-for-4 and Williams was 2-for-3.
The Tigers committed one error in the game while W.S. Neal committed two.
W.S. Neal will either take on Georgiana Monday or Wednesday of this week before facing Thomasville in the first round of the state playoffss Friday. Game time is set for 4 and 7 p.m. with the best 2-of-3 advancing to the second round.
The Tigers will close out their season Monday against Atmore on the home field at 5 and 7 p.m.

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