2nd round bound

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Opp’s Hunter Roeser (right) slides safely home during the sixth inning, where the Bobcats scored six runs to take a 9-2 lead. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Opp needed to win every inning to beat T.R. Miller on Saturday in game three of the first round in the Class 3A state playoffs.

The Bobcats did that, especially in the sixth inning, and put up a stellar defensive effort in a 11-4 victory over the Tigers at Merchants Field.

“We wanted to make sure we won every inning,” OHS coach Michael Cassady said. “That’s what our motto has been since Straughn. We wanted to take each inning, and win each inning and throw strikes.

“That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “Last night (Friday night), they didn’t earn it. We hit batters, we walked folks. We wanted them to earn it.”

Opp split with the Tigers of Brewton Friday night, falling 5-2 in the first game, but came back to win 6-5 in the second contest to force the game three on Saturday.

The Bobcats (20-6) will visit Bayside Academy for the second round of the playoffs in Daphne on Friday, where the first pitch of the doubleheader is slated for 4 p.m. A third game on Saturday, if needed, will take place at noon.

Opp led early 1-0 after the first inning, but T.R. Miller added two runs on one hit and an error in the third to take a 2-1 lead going into the fourth, where the Bobcats added two runs to take their second lead of the game.

After the Tigers took their only lead in the game, things started going the wrong way for them on the offensive front.

There were three instances where either Opp catcher Dane Buckelew threw a runner out on base or made the tag on an attempted run at home.

“When you do that, it makes teams not be aggressive on the field,” Cassady said about Buckelew’s performance.

Buckelew threw a runner out in the bottom of the third inning and in the fourth. He made the tag at home in the bottom of the first to prevent the tying run.

Opp’s six runs in the sixth inning began when Thomas Weed walked on a 3-1 count from Tigers’ pitcher Jacob Fillmore. Buckelew then reached on an error to put runners at first and second with no outs.

Trey Short hit an RBI single to score Weed; Short scored later on on an error from the field; T.J. Register hit an RBI double to score Buckelew; and Davis hit an RBI single to score Register to end a back-to-back RBI fest.

“We pitched well enough in the ball game, but we didn’t play defense for the little man (T.R. Miller pitcher Conner Denton),” Tigers coach Jim Hart said. “He kept the ball down and got us some ground balls. We didn’t make the plays. When you get 14 hits, and we can’t get but five against a team like this, it’s an uphill battle. My hat is off to them. They swung it. They did a heck of a job.”

Davis then scored on an RBI double from Hunter Roeser, who had been 0-for-2 in his previous two at bats. The Bobcats added their ninth run of the game on Brady Vidich’s flyout to center that scored Roeser.

“(We) Just (wanted) make good at bats at every pitch,” Cassady said about the sixth inning. “We wanted to get ahead of the count and then when you get ahead, you can look for pitches. That’s what we did. Then, we started putting pressure on them by bunting and slashing.”

Other than Buckelew’s performance behind the plate at catcher, the Bobcats drew up a few key defensive plays, namely Vidich, Davis and Weed’s diving catches with runners on base. Weed’s catch came in the fifth, and turned into a double play to end the inning as the runner on first left early.

“We made plays,” Cassady said. “We made big-time plays. We made two big diving plays in the outfield. You can rally off of a big play someitmes, and that’s what happens.”

Opp added two runs in the seventh on a two-run triple from Davis, who led the Bobcats and went 4-for-5 with three RBIs.

T.R. Miller scored one run each in the sixth and seventh innings off of a ground out from Darby Black, and a flyout from Caleb McAnally, respectively.

Brady Jowers earned the win on the mound for Opp, pitching only 2.2 innings. He allowed two runs on three hits. Short earned the save, pitching the last two innings.

The Bobcats took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Buckelew’s hit to right field bounced off the glove to score Vidich and Weed.

Short went 2-for-3; and Register went 3-for-4 to also lead Opp in hits.