Amite tops WCCA for tourney crown

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

LIBERTY &045; Player haters beware. Nobody’s perfect, you say? Try telling that to Amite School Center.

That’s precisely what the Rebels have been against District 7-A competition the past three seasons, reeling off 30 straight wins through the regular season and district tournaments.

The last game ASC lost to a 7-A opponent came in Ferriday, La., back in 2000 when Huntington hosted the four-team tourney.

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More impressive is that ASC has accomplished the feat with three head coaches in four years, including current skipper Kelly Kinsey.

Tradition says on couples’ 30th anniversaries, pearls are the ideal gift.

However, the Rebels might just welcome some cheap Mardi Gras beads, after they nearly blew a 10-run lead only to hold on for a 14-10 win against Wilkinson County Christian Academy in the 7-A championship game Friday.

&uot;The expectations were pretty high when I got here, but I knew it was going to be tough on the seniors,&uot; Kinsey said. &uot;They’ve had to learn three different types of baseball. They’ve done a great job to listen and give everything they had.&uot;

Both teams are headed to the Mississippi Private School Association Class A playoffs, with ASC getting a first-round bye and the Rams set to face the No. 2 seed out of District 6 beginning Tuesday.

Try as they might with a 12-2 lead a the end of two innings, the Rebels never legitimately put away WCCA until they turned a game-ending double play in the top of the seventh.

After managing just two hits and two runs off ASC starter Taylor Knapp in three innings of work, the Rams peppered set-up man Dean Lewis for eight runs, including a five-run sixth.

&uot;It was a game that easily could’ve gotten out of hand, but my kids showed a lot of class and character by not quitting,&uot; WCCA head coach Ray Olive said. &uot;I told them to chip away and by the end of seven they would have something to be proud of. We came close.&uot;

Ninth-man Jack Maxwell led off the top of the sixth with a stand-up double to the right centerfield gap and moved to second when Ruston Cado followed with a walk.

On the first pitch he saw, catcher Stephen Goulette knocked in both runners with a single to center, bringing the Rams within 13-7.

&uot;I told them to swing free instead of be tight out there,&uot; Olive said. &uot;I wanted them to put the bat on whatever they could get it on.&uot;

After Duston Dore collected a base knock off the end of his bat, both runners moved into scoring position off a Lewis wild pitch to Spike Deville.

Deville, who surrendered nine of the Rebels first 12 runs, cut ASC’s lead further in half, 13-10, when he belted a 1-2 fastball over the fence in right center.

WCCA players gathered around home plate to rub the newly shaven head of Deville for good luck.

&uot;Woodville has been a good team at coming from behind in the district tournament all week,&uot; Kinsey said. &uot;I knew they were going to start hitting the ball at some points. I told my guys to be ready and play some defense because they were going to put the ball in play.&uot;

Lewis finally got out of the sixth without any additional harm, and ASC got a huge insurance run in its half from Austin Bean.

Bean, one of six Rebel seniors that start, brought home Brady Brabham, who got the rally started with a two-out double.

Bean led all hitters with three hits and a hat trick of RBIs Friday.

&uot;I knew they were going to throw me a lot of fastballs, so I figured I’d wait back and hit line drives,&uot; Bean said.

Bean’s RBI double in the first tied the game at 2 after the southpaw Knapp struggled to find his rhythm in his first start in two weeks.

The ASC ace injured his pitching thumb and has been wearing a cast while not on the mound. The Rebels took their first lead, 3-2, when Brabham came home to score one of his three runs, as Cado could not squeeze a pop up off Dustin Havard’s bat.

The Rams committed three of their eight errors in a nine-run second that appeared to blow the doors off the game.

The big blows came when freshman Casey Aldridge thumped a two-run blast into the trees and kudzu past the left field fence, making it 11-2, and Lewis went back-to-back with a solo blast in nearly the same spot.

&uot;They’ve been a very good hitting team all year long,&uot; Bean said of the Rams. &uot;Being up was big apparently because they really stormed back.&uot;