WSN baseball to take on Opp in round two
While they may be 25-0, the W.S. Neal Eagle baseball team is not talking about their unblemished record. All the Eagles are talking about is winning two games and getting on to the next round and to be able to keep playing.
Last season, the W.S. Neal Eagle baseball team got the “monkey off their backs” and won a first round playoff game and advanced to the second round for the first time in over 20 years.
After making it to the second round of the state baseball playoffs, the Eagles then had “unfinished business” to deal with as they were matched up with the UMS-Wright Bulldogs—the team that had eliminated the Eagles the year before.
After not having such good luck against UMS-Wright, W.S. Neal Eagle head coach Coy Campbell said the unfinished business in 2013 is winning in round two and moving on to the third round…and then more.
The No. 1-ranked and 25-0 Eagles of East Brewton will have that chance Friday when they travel to face the Opp Bobcats in round two of the AHSAA class 3A baseball playoffs.
The No. 9-ranked Bobcats improved to 22-7 Saturday after they swept Bayside Academy in round one of the state 3A playoffs. Opp won game one 2-0 and took game two 12-0.
Game time is set for 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday. If the two teams split, a deciding third game will be played at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Opp.
The Eagles clinched their spot in round two Saturday at home when they swept Straughn in round one 10-0 in five innings and 12-6 in game two.
“It was a good series,” Campbell said. “Brian Settle threw the ball well for us in game one and gave us a chance to win. We swung the bats and ended up with 10 hits in that game. Brian’s pitch count was down and I just proud of the kid’s effort overall in game one. In game two, we got down early 4-0. The kids could have very easily quit, but that was just a testament to their willingness to win. They just don’t give up. I was concerned but I had coaches in the dugout that were not concerned. They told us to relax and we put a seven-spot up in the fourth inning and go up 7-4 and it is a whole different ballgame.”
Campbell said he knew if he could get to the sixth inning, he still had Settle from the game before after he only threw five innings in game one and had two more innings left in him.
“We knew we could bring him in if we needed,” Campbell said. “We brought Cam Blackman in for Keith Bradley and threw the ball extremely well considering his arm was hurting him in his last outing.”
The Bobcats will be a familiar foe this season for the Eagles as W.S. Neal has already played Opp earlier this season in the Spring Break tournament in Opp. W.S. Neal won 6-0.
“They are good ball club,” Campbell said of the Bobcats. “We played them earlier in the Spring Break tournament. Neither one of us threw our very best at each other, but at the same time, we both had our starters in the game. At this point of the playoffs, if they are still playing, they are good. If they are still playing, they are doing something right. We are not going to take anybody for granted. It is basically a two-game series and we are trying to get in there and win two.”
While the Eagles and Bobcats have already met earlier this season, Campbell said it helps to play a team that you are familiar with.
“It helps,” he said. “It helps that you don’t have to make all these phone calls and talk to these other people and listen to these other people tell you about that team. You have an idea of what they can do. At the same time, with it being late in the year, I am sure both teams have got better. It is just going to come down to who executes in the series and does not beat themselves.”
While his team has remained perfect all season—the only team in the state to do so—Campbell said if his team loses during their playoff run, the only thing important right now is winning two games and to keep on advancing.
“That’s it,” Campbell said. “I know that is going to keep coming up because we have not been beat yet. At the same time, that has not been a conversation between us coaches or us players during one point during the season. I am sure kids are going to be kids and keep talking about it. It is nothing actually that we talk about. We are just about winning two games and getting on to the next round and keep playing.”
Last year, the Eagles advanced to the second round for what was thought to be the first time since 1990.
In 1990, the Eagles, under the direction of head coach Danny Parker, went to the state semi-finals before falling to Saint Paul’s.
W.S. Neal defeated South Choctaw in round one, Lamar in round two, and Vincent in the quarterfinals before falling to Saint Paul’s in the third and deciding game of the semifinals—one game shy of the state championship game.
The 1990 season is thought to be the last time a W.S. Neal baseball team has advanced past round two of the state playoffs.
After advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1990 last year, the Eagles saw their season end with a loss to the UMS-Wright Bulldogs. It was the second straight year, W.S. Neal lost to UMS.
W.S. Neal (23-12) lost game one to the Bulldogs 8-3 before winning game two 6-4 to force a third and deciding game Saturday. In Saturday’s game, UMS-Wright scored 13 unanswered runs to drop the Eagles 13-2 in five innings to eliminate the Eagles of East Brewton.
With a series win against Opp in round two, W.S. Neal will be home in the quarterfinal round against the winner of the American Christian/Leeds series.