Andalusia’s Daniel Henderson (11), Peyton Maddox (12), Brayden Burkhardt (5) celebrate their 8-7 victory over Opp Tuesday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News
Andalusia’s Daniel Henderson (11), Peyton Maddox (12), Brayden Burkhardt (5) celebrate their 8-7 victory over Opp Tuesday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

RIGHTING THE SHIP

Published 12:02am Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Henderson hits walk-off RBI single, lifts AHS to 8-7 win

Andalusia senior Daniel Henderson hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to help lead the Bulldogs to a 8-7 victory over rival Opp on Tuesday night.

Henderson’s laser down the right-field line scored Quinton Maddox from second base with one out.

When asked what it felt like to get that crucial hit, Henderson said “a weight just lifted off my shoulders.”

“We hadn’t won a game in a while, and to do it like that was great,” Henderson said.

Entering last night’s regular-season contest, the Bulldogs (7-6) were coming off of a 3-3 stretch in the past week. AHS fell to Class 6A schools Northview and Opelika on Saturday.

Bulldogs coach Tyler Dent said the win over the Bobcats was good for the team.

“It was an emotional win for us,” Dent said. “I told the guys that we’ve got to get the ship going in the right direction. We did it. I’m proud of them.”

Throughout the more than two-hour game, the Bobcats never wavered in their resolve to get back in the contest.

Opp’s Eli Johnson throws to first for an out Tuesday. | Andrew Garner/Star-News
Opp’s Eli Johnson throws to first for an out Tuesday. |
Andrew Garner/Star-News

OHS dissolved a 6-3 deficit in the top of the seventh to take a one-run lead on an inside-the-park grand slam off of Holt Hall’s bat. Hall’s hit went far into right field and it afforded enough time for Jacob Johnson, Ethan Davis and Eli Johnson to score from their respective positions on the base pads.

What helped the Bobcats get to a one-run advantage was an overturned call at first base to start the seventh inning.

Jacob Johnson hit a grounder to Andalusia shortstop Brayden Burkhardt, who made a stellar throw to Henderson. Johnson was called out and OHS coach Michael Cassady challenged the call.

The umpires got together for a short meeting and the call was then overturned. Dent argued the safe call and was then tossed for disagreeing with the umpire’s assessment of the play.

The Andalusia coach didn’t say much about it after the game.

After Jacob reached on the call, Davis walked and Eli hit a single to load the bases with no outs, just in time for Hall to hit his grand slam.

“Adversity hit them right there in the face in the seventh,” Dent said. “Adversity has hit us in the face all week. We’ve had a rough week. We lost three out of our last three.

“Hopefully, we can get a little run going and get it back in the right direction,” he said.

The Bulldogs answered by tying the game up in the bottom of the seventh on Hunter Earnest’s fly out to right field that scored Henderson from third to send the game into extras.

Justin Scherzinger came in for AHS and pitched a gem in the eighth to record the win. He retired three straight batters on a strikeout and two grounders to second base after walking Walker Messer with no outs.

Andalusia’s Ross Graham threw five innings and gave up three runs on eight hits while getting one strikeout for the no decision. Quinton Maddox and Jud Rogers threw one inning each in relief.

“My pitchers did a great job all night,” Dent said. “We hit the ball well. We hit the ball hard on the ground. It was definitely a total team effort. It was a good job out of (assistant coaches) Coach (Matt) Mellown, coach (Matt) Johnson and coach (Robert) Woodall.”

Opp (6-6) cut it to three in the fifth inning on Davis’ RBI single that scored Messer.

AHS bolted out to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning on a three-run single from Maddox that scored Brandon Smith, Rogers and Grayson Campbell.

The Bobcats narrowed the gap in the fourth to cut it to one at 3-2 on Brady Vidich’s RBI single to left.

Opp’s Britt Buckelew pitched a good game as well, going seven innings for the no decision. He gave up seven runs on seven hits and struck out four.

Cassady said it was a tough game to lose.

“Britt Buckelew pitched a heck-of-a game,” Cassady said. “He got 75 pitches in seven innings. He did a great job. We hit the ball well against their best pitchers. We just made some mistakes. They’ve got a good team.

“I’m just proud that we fought back,” he said. “We were down three runs in the seventh and put four on there. We just got a little unlucky in the eighth. My hat’s off to them. They did a good job.”

Maddox went 3-for-4 with three RBIs to lead AHS. Henderson went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

Eli Johnson went 4-for-5 for OHS; and Hall went 2-for-3 with four RBIs.

After Henderson hit his walk-off single, he ran around first base and put his arms up in triumph.

The senior, echoing his coach, said it was a team victory.

“Right when I hit the ball, I looked at my teammates — that’s all I cared about, was winning it for them,” Henderson said.

The Bobcats are back in action tomorrow for an area doubleheader at Southside Selma.

Andalusia visits rival Straughn tomorrow for a regular-season twin bill.

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