Opp wins 2015 Cal Ripken 12U state championship

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 9, 2015

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In a battle of Covington County teams for the 2015 Cal Ripken 12U state championship, it was the Opp All-Stars who prevailed in hard-fought 9-7 victory over Covington County Tuesday night at Johnson Park.


Covington County got things started at the plate, and after Opp’s Hal Smithart started the game off with a strikeout, Covington County’s Aden Amis drew a walk to for the first base runner of the game.


Smithart picked up a second strikeout one batter later, but followed by walking Jon Jon Dewrell to put runners on first and second.


Covington County’s Tucker Livings followed that with a RBI single to give his team an early 1-0 lead.


Smithart responded by striking out the next batter for his third strikeout in the first inning.


In the bottom of the first inning, Lane Ballard was plunked on the head to start inning by Covington County pitcher Livings.


Livings got two straight groundouts following the hit-by-pitch, but an error off the bat of Jesse Coon kept the inning alive for Opp.


Smithart made the most of the error, as he followed it up by lacing a single into the outfield that allowed Ballard to come around to score, knotting the game up at, 1-1.


Judd Fuqua got Covington County started strong in the top of the second inning, when he ripped a single to start the inning.


Braxton Lee came up one batter later, and reached on an infield single. Jake Wilson loaded the bases when he also reached on an infield single.


Amis gave Covington County the lead when he ripped a single into right field, just past the outstretched glove of the Opp second baseman.


Gabrien Dunn put Covington County on top 4-1 as he drove a pitch to the fence for a two-run double.


After the hit from Dunn, Ballard replaced Smithart on the mound for Opp.


Following the pitching change, Dewrell hit a groundball to second and was thrown out at first, but the fielder’s choice allowed Amis to score from third.


Livings helped his own cause once more when he drove in Dunn with a single for his second RBI of the game.


After an inning and a half, Covington County was top of Opp 6-1.


In the bottom of the second, Livings punched out the first two batters on strikeouts, and got the third batter to pop up softly to third base for the third out.


Ballard responded for Opp by setting down the Covington County batters down in order in the top of third inning.


Brady James got Opp going in the bottom of third as led off with a single to start the frame.


Ballard followed with double to put runners on second and third with no outs.


Livings got the next batter to strikeout for the first out of the inning.


Payton Ellis then drove in James with a double and kept runners on second and third.


Livings picked up another strikeout for the second out of the inning, but followed that with a walk to Ballard to load the bases with two outs.


An error of the bat of Wyatt Horn allowed two runs to score and kept the inning alive for Opp, as they cut the Covington County lead down to 6-4.


Chandler Pyron responded with a two-run single into the outfield that tied the game up at 6-6.


In the top of the fourth inning, Wilson led off with single, but was called out at second on a fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning.


In the home half of the fourth inning, Ballard reached on a one-out error, and with two outs Ellis delivered a single that allowed Ballard to score and give Opp a 7-6 lead.


Covington County answered back in the top of the fifth inning, when Livings drew a walk to start the inning and came around to score on a fielder’s choice from Bryson Pate to tie the game back up at 7-7.


In the bottom of the fifth, Horn came through for Opp once more, as he ripped a triple into right center to start the inning and put the go-ahead run 60 feet away.


Erik Matthews entered as a pinch runner for Wyatt, and scored easily on single Case Short to put Opp up 8-7 with one out in the bottom of the fifth.


Short moved up to second on single from Thomas Glisson, and moved up to third on a bunt single from James.


Short would then come around to score on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Ballard to put Opp up 9-7.


Ballard got the first batter of the top of the sixth inning to groundout to first base, but an error off the bat of Amis gave Covington County a little bit of life late in the game.


That was quickly erased though as Ballard struck out the next two batters to give Opp the state championship.


“First of all, this team has put God first,” Opp coach Preston Boutwell said. “Everything else will fall into place. We give him the glory. It’s not us, it’s him. This is a great group of guys. They have worked hard and they play as a team. Before the game I asked them if they were hungry, because we have been in this spot twice before and haven’t won. I told them the third time was ours, and we battled back and won.”


Ballard was the winning pitcher, scored three runs and drove in one run in the win.


“We played hard and didn’t give up,” Covington County coach Jeff Jeter said. “It was a tough loss, but hats off to Opp, they are a good baseball team. I was proud of the way our kids fought.”