Neal erupts in game 2, Straughn ends season

Published 6:32 pm Saturday, April 20, 2013

By Josh Bean

EAST BREWTON, Alabama – As Keith Edgar’s three-run homer sailed over the left-field fence and his teammates rushed out of the dugout to mob him at home plate, Straughn appeared on its way to handing top-ranked W.S. Neal its first loss of the season.

It was not to be.

W.S. Neal (25-0) erupted for seven runs in the fourth inning – erasing a 4-0 deficit following the Eagles’ 10-0, five-inning victory in the opener – and went on to post a 12-6 victory in game two of Saturday’s Class 3A playoff doubleheader.

“When we scored seven in that one inning, it was a different ball game,” W.S. Neal coach Coy Campbell said.

W.S. Neal, armed with eight seniors and a bevy of playoff experience, never appeared worried, not even after Edgar’s home run. Edgar also retired the first eight batters and nine of the first 10 before running into trouble in the fourth.

The Eagles’ Jeremy Myers and Damion Williams opened the fourth with back-to-back singles. Edgar started focusing on the Eagles’ base runners – not the hitters – and W.S. Neal capitalized with a seven-run outburst.

“When you’re undefeated, you probably believe you’re going to win,” Straughn coach John Fussell said. “They’ve got a great ball club. That’s what eight seniors will do for you.”

In the opener, W.S. Neal took advantage of nine walks issued by Straughn pitchers Tucker Lawless and Rollin Kinsaul and ended the game by the 10-run mercy rule when Cam Blackmon’s bases-loaded hit scored Jeremy Myers.

Left-hander hander Brian Settle allowed only three hits, walked none and never allowed a runner past second base in the complete-game victory. He also picked off two runners and benefitted from the Eagles scoring three runs in the first inning.

“When we scored three and have Brian on the hill, we feel pretty good about that,” Coy Campbell said.

W.S. Neal now moves on to the second round and tries to keep its perfect season alive, but Campbell said the winning streak is not a major topic of conversation.

“At this point, you’ve just got to win two and move on,” Coy Campbell said.

Straughn (15-20), meanwhile, loses only two seniors from this year’s playoff squad.

“We’ve got to find a way to win,” Fussell said.