Andalusia baseball players celebrate with Brayden Burkhardt after the sophomore laid down a bunt that scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday night. |                             Andrew Garner/Star-News
Andalusia baseball players celebrate with Brayden Burkhardt after the sophomore laid down a bunt that scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Andalusia wins area championship

Published 12:01am Saturday, April 13, 2013

Andalusia’s Brayden Burkhardt came through again for the Bulldogs.

Burkhardt, a sophomore, bunted the game-winning run in on a squeeze play as the Bulldogs beat Monroe County 6-5 to win the Class 4A, Area 2 championship on Friday night.

When it came down to it, the Bulldogs had to execute on bunts, AHS coach Jonathan Rasberry said.

“Luckily, as you can see, we won the ball game on a squeeze play,” Rasberry said. “That’s big for an area championship.

“That’s a 10th grader who proved to me that he can get it down,” he said.

On Tuesday, Burkhardt did the same thing in an 8-1 victory over Opp for the Bulldogs.

“Three bunts will win the ball game for you (in a tie situation),” Rasberry said. “That’s why I preach to the kids why bunts are so important. Bunting can win a ball game for you, especially when you’re struggling at the plate.”

Andalusia’s Jud Rogers and Will Harrison reached on bunts to start the bottom half of the seventh inning.

After advancing to second on a passed ball and reaching third, Rogers came in on Burkhardt’s well-placed bunt with no outs.

Throughout Friday night’s contest, Andalusia couldn’t get the hits it needed in crucial situations and with runners on base.

Fortunately, the Bulldogs strung together three hits in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 5-all.

Devan McDuffie hit a liner down the left field line to score Will Harrison to cut the lead to 5-3 at the start.

Grayson Campbell then reached on a single and Quinton Maddox hit a laser to right to score Campbell to make it 5-4. McDuffie later scored on Brandon Smith’s fielder’s choice to tie the game with two outs, and give new life to AHS.

The Tigers (10-12) got the ball rolling in the second inning when they scored three runs on hits from R.J. McKinley, Waylon Rowell and Franky Banks to make it a 3-0 game.

Andalusia tacked on a run in the bottom half of the frame when Zach Ward scored on an error.

MCHS didn’t back down in the third with one run that came on a passed ball with two outs.

In the top of the fourth, the Tigers could’ve pushed the game to 5-2, but pitcher Daniel Henderson tagged Rowell out at home on the passed ball.

That gave Andalusia some momentum, the coach said.

“They had runners on every inning,” Rasberry said. “They just did a good job of getting on. They executed well. They got guys in from third base from fly balls.

“We were very fortunate to get out of here with a win,” he said.

Ward hit an RBI double to make cut the game to 4-2 in the third inning.

Earlier in the evening, the Bulldogs beat MCHS 7-4 in the first game of the area series.

With the area championship win, AHS earned the right to host the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

Henderson struck out five batters and allowed four earned runs on 10 hits in a complete game to get the win.

Burkhardt went 1-for-1 with an RBI; McDuffie and Ward had two hits with an RBI each; and Campbell went 2-for-4 to lead the Bulldogs in the night cap.

In game one, AHS built a 4-1 lead after the first two innings, but the scrappy Tigers bounced back with three runs in the fourth to tie the game.

The Bulldogs plated two runs in the bottom of the fourth on an error and an RBI single from Maddox.

Andalusia ace pitcher Ross Graham threw a complete game, striking out 13 batters, while allowing three hits.

AHS (25-8-1) will be back in action today at noon in Monroeville to complete the area series against MCHS.

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