Wall stops Holt Ironmen

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Defense played a big role in the second-round baseball playoff game between the Andalusia Bulldogs and the visiting Holt Ironmen on Saturday.

The Bulldogs jumped on top 1-0 in the first inning and then used strong pitching from starting lefty Daniel Wall along with solid defense for a 3-1 victory.

The Ironmen, however, did not play as well on defense.

Andalusia started the game with Wall on the mound and he issued a walk to lead-off batter Dusty Lee. Lee advanced to second when Steven Shaw got down a bunt and it was mishandled by Wall.

The Ironmen had runners on first and second with no outs as Stephen Burnett strode to the plate. The third hitter in the batting order for the Ironmen came up with a rocket shot back up the middle that would have scored at least one run if it were not for the defense of Trevor Mathews.

The Andalusia second baseman made a diving grab for the first out of the inning and then beat Lee to second base for a double play. Wall seemed to be pumped up after watching Mathews' web gem and responded by striking out Holt's clean-up hitter.

In the bottom of the first inning, Andalusia outfielder Neal Patterson reached on a lead-off walk. He was retired when Mathews saw the Holt infielders pull off a web gem of their own turning a 1-6-3 double play.

Wall came up with two outs and lifted a high fly ball to left field where Holt's Steven Shaw dropped it. Wall never stopped running, rounding first base and sliding safely into second.

Tyler Wilson was the next batter for Andalusia and he came through with an RBI-single to plate Wesley Liles (as a courtesy runner for Wall) and give the Bulldogs the early lead. Holt got out of the inning when Cole Sightler flied out to right.

Holt tried to rally and answer Andalusia's run in the top of the second. The Ironmen had runners on first and second with two outs when Wall struck out Jeffery Pierce to end the threat.

The game turned into a pitcher's duel until the fourth inning.

Holt had runners on first and second with no outs in the top of the fourth, but failed to score as Wall and the Bulldogs got out of the jam.

In the bottom of the fourth, Sightler started the Bulldogs off with a triple to center field when the Holt outfielder misjudged the ball. Andrew Harry was the next batter for Andalusia and struck out.

The Bulldogs, however, were not finished and did not waste Sightler's hit with Jake Hollingsworth ripping an RBI-single to plate the Bulldogs' second run of the game.

Andalusia scored again in the bottom of the third inning when Patterson started the frame with a lead-off single. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mathews and scored on an RBI-single by Wall.

The score remained 3-0 until the top of the seventh inning when the Ironmen put together a rally. Shaw reached on a lead-off single, moved to second when Barnett drew a walk and scored when Burnette hit into a force out.

Frank Toeran came up to bat with a runner on third and struck out. Jonathan Sherrill was the next batter and he drew a walk to put runners on first and third.

Wall was taken off the mound by Andalusia Head Coach Ben Ramer after issuing the walk and Wilson went to the hill. He slammed the door on the Ironmen. Wilson threw just two pitches, getting a fly out to center on the second pitch to end the game and secure the win.

Wall pitched a solid game going 6 2/3 innings. He allowed one run on six hits and six walks while striking out seven.

Ramer said it was a tough decision to take Wall off the mound with the Bulldogs' needing just one out.

"I wanted him to get the complete game, but it doesn't matter - whatever it takes to win," Ramer said.

The Bulldog skipper also said he thought Wall pitched wonderfully.

"I thought he threw great," Ramer said. "He was around the plate all day."

The Bulldogs' early lead was another big factor, Ramer said.

"It's important for our bunch (to get an early lead)," Ramer said. "We keep our heads more in the game when we get up early.

"I'm proud of them," he added. "I think we are playing our best ball right now."

Holt Head Coach Joey Milligan said the Ironmen had their chances.

"We just squandered too many opportunities," Milligan said. "They played a good baseball game. Today, they were better than us.

"We made a couple of errors in the field that really, really hurt us," he added.

The Bulldogs are now 18-11 and return to action on Friday when they host the Elmore County Panthers for a third-round series.

The two teams will play a best two-out-of-three series beginning with a doubleheader at 4 p.m. on Friday. A third game will be played at 2 p.m. on Saturday if needed.