WCCA loses big lead in season-ending defeat

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 9, 2008

WOODVILLE — The first game of the MPSA Class A South State Championship series between Heidelberg Academy and WCCA was a low-scoring one that ended with the Rebels’ Derek Beech hitting a walk-off, three-run home run.

The second game of the best-of-three series on Thursday night was just the opposite. By the top of the sixth inning, the Rebels had an 11-10 lead over the Rams and they would add a couple of more runs en route to a 13-10 win to sweep the series and advance to the state championship round.

Heidelberg Academy trailed 8-0 at the end of the first inning and didn’t take the lead until the top of the sixth when it scored four runs.

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“You put eight on somebody in the first inning, you should get them down,” WCCA head coach Ray Olive said. “They never gave up. We couldn’t sustain our first inning.”

Even though the Rams might have felt good about that eight-run first inning, Olive was concerned that his team would lose some of its focus and intensity.

The Rams got to the Rebels’ first pitcher of the game, Colby Reeves, in the bottom of the first inning. The Rebels also made a couple of errors that Olive said seemed to rattle them a bit.

But Heidelberg Academy (30-3) turned to its offense and the pitching of Andrew Jones and Blake Denham to get the Rebels back in the ball game.

Jones held WCCA (23-12) to just two runs in five innings, and Denham pitched a scoreless seventh inning. At the plate, five Rebel players had two hits each, including Beech, who had a home run, as well as Jones and Denham, who each had a double.

The Rebels scored two runs each in the top of the second and third innings to cut the Rams’ lead to 9-4. After each team scored one run in the fifth, back-to-back four-run innings allowed the Rebels to take the lead for good.

The Rams had 10 hits in the game, but none went for extra bases. It was not a well-played defensive game, either, as both teams committed six errors. George Davis was the only multiple hitter for WCCA as he went 2-for-3.

“They stepped their game up,” Olive said. “They’re not 30-3 for nothing. We played all year with tremendous heart. Before we ever played a game, we had a meeting and discussed that we had the tools to play for a state title this year.

“They bought into it and worked their tails off to get to this point. We had a tremendous opportunity with our seniors to go deep into the playoffs.”

Olive also noted that having to go through the wild card tournament took its toll on the pitching staff.