Cal Ripken teams fall short at state
By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
Atmore's Cal Ripken League baseball has come to an end this season as what began as a promising state tournament appearance went downhill after the first round.
While the 10-year-olds advanced to the final round of the state tourney, Atmore's 11-year-olds, 8-and-under and 12-year-olds were each eliminated by the end of play on Saturday.
The 10-year-old squad advanced to the Minor League championship game Sunday, but were forced to accept second place as they fell to Blount County for the second time, 5-2.
The 10-year-olds earned a first-round victory over Colbert County, 4-1, as Cody Vickrey pitched a complete game. He allowed no earned runs and struck out three batters. Mitchell Rolin scored three runs.
In the second game, Blount County scored five runs in the fifth to slip past Atmore, 8-7.
Skyler Peacock pitched another complete game for Atmore, allowing only two earned runs.
Nico Johnson scored two runs to lead the Atmore offense. Rolin, Haden McGill, Jordan Hasting, Jon Dean and Peacock also scored.
Atmore avoided elimination and advanced to the championship game with an 11-7 victory over Atalla.
Vickrey earned his second win of the tourney with a complete game. He gave up four earned runs and struck out four batters.
Jamorris Curry led the 10-year-olds on offense as he scored three runs. Rolin and Vickrey scored two runs each. Stephen Yoder, Jordan Hasting, Dean and Dustin McGhee also scored.
In the championship game, Atmore's bats were quiet. Their only runs came in the final inning as Yoder and Johnson each scored with no outs.
But, Blount County held on to their 5-2 advantage by retiring the next three batters.
Peacock pitched four innings, allowing three earned runs with three strike outs. He was relieved by Rolin for the final two innings.
The Atmore Major League (12-year-olds) team put up a tough fight, but in their third game, Wilson Dam came from behind to eliminate them from the tourney.
Wilson Dam sent Atmore to the loser's bracket in the first round by a score of 10-4.
Joseph Drew led Atmore's offense with two runs. Skylar Rolin and Anthony Matthews also scored.
Rolin and Matthews pitched three innings each.
In the second game, Atmore defeated Oneonta-Blount in extra innings, 4-3.
Rolin helped lead the team to victory with a two-run homerun in the third inning to give Atmore a two-run lead, 3-1. Rolin had also scored Atmore's first run of the game in the second inning.
Oneonta held Atmore through the sixth inning and tied the game to force extra innings.
In the top of the seventh, Atmore's Jonathan McNeil led off with a double. Corey Flowers followed with a single that gave Atmore a 4-3 lead.
McNeil, who had came in as a relief pitcher earlier in the game, began the bottom of the seventh by surrendering a single to an Oneonta batter. A fielder's choice moved him into scoring position with one out. But, McNeil struck out the final two batters to secure the victory for Atmore.
Matthews started the game at pitcher for Atmore and surrendered one run in two innings. He was relieved by Rolin who went two innings, giving up two runs.McNeil pitched the final three innings.
The final game for the Major League team was just as close, but this time Atmore fell on the short end, 5-4, as Wilson Dam eliminated them from the tournament.
The game was tied in the bottom of the sixth when Wilson Dam scored the go-ahead run.
Neither team was able to score until the third.
In the top of the third, Atmore took a 3-0 lead. Cody Norton led off the inning with a double. He came home on a single by Blake Pearson. Guyel Martin hit a single to put runners at first and second. McNeil brought both runners in with a double.
The lead did not last long as Wilson Dam scored tied the game with three runs in the bottom of the third.
In the fifth, Atmore took a 4-3 advantage as Pearson, who had reached on a single, scored on McNeil's second double of the game.
Atmore was three outs from advancing when Wilson Dam came back in the bottom of the sixth. A lead-off single and a bloop hit tied the game at 4-4 and a line-drive single brought in the winning run.
Matthews and Rolin pitched three innings each.
Atmore's pitchers performed very well especially considering their lack of experience coming into the tournament. Matthews and Rolin had not pitched on a regular basis through the season and took the mound for the first time in a tournament situation. But, coaches said they did a great job and gave their team an opportunity to win. McNeil also performed well, expecially in his relief appearance in the second game when he pitched three scoreless innings.
Results from the 11-year-olds and the Rookie League tournaments will be printed as information becomes available.
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