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West Morgan shortstop Seth Wallace goes low for a ball hit into the hole between short and third base. He tossed to second base to record the force out and end the second inning of the opening game.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
West Morgan shortstop Seth Wallace goes low for a ball hit into the hole between short and third base. He tossed to second base to record the force out and end the second inning of the opening game.

One more win
West Morgan stands only a victory from making state 2A semifinals

By Brooke Milam
bmilam@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

TRINITY — One run wasn't nearly enough for West Morgan High's baseball team to beat defending Class 2A champion Ranburne in the first game of a playoff doubleheader Friday.

But it was a single run that managed to salvage a win for the Rebels in game two, giving West Morgan a split.

Ranburne looked every bit the defending champion with a 7-1 win in the first game, before West Morgan recovered with a 5-4 win in the second contest.

The deciding game in the best-of-three series will be Saturday at noon at West Morgan's Keenum Field.

"Our kids really played — they weren't intimidated," West Morgan coach Todd Stephens said. "Even after we lost the first game, they were still focused and ready to go out there and win."

The Rebels (29-9) never trailed in the second contest.

After Michael Clem scored the game's first run on a wild pitch in the first inning, the Rebels were either ahead or tied with the Bulldogs (24-8) the rest of the way.

"I thought that was big for our kids to start out on top," Stephens said. "They played hard. They didn't want to lose that game."

Ranburne's Jacob Hanson drove in Brent Whittle, tying the game 1-1 in the third inning. West Morgan catcher Tyler Jones stopped the Bulldogs from posting the go-ahead run by tagging out a runner at the plate to end the inning.

Clem drove in Brent Lea in the fourth, giving West Morgan a 2-1 lead, but after Ranburne's Drew Norton knocked in Kip Cash and the score was again tied, 2-2.

West Morgan had the bases loaded with two outs in the fifth when Daniel Korpi brought home two runs. A would-be double play ball hit by Korpi turned into a throwing error by the Bulldogs, scoring Seth Wallace and Anthony Atemon for a 4-2 West Morgan lead. Jones singled to score Korpi, and the Rebels led 5-2.

Ranburne posted a run in the fifth and another in the sixth, but it wasn't enough to break the Rebels' advantage.

"They played well and got some timely hits, and we made some errors we haven't made in a while," Ranburne coach Bart Young said. "But that happens in high school baseball."

Korpi struck out two batters and got the second-game win on the mound, while Ranburne's Chase Smith struck out nine.

Atemon pitched the complete game for West Morgan in the first contest, striking out seven. Winning pitcher Chase Whitley struck out five in the opener for the Bulldogs.

"We didn't do a lot of hitting in the first game," Stephens said.

Jones' double and single in the first game were a bright spot for the Rebels in the first game, while Ranburne had the lively bats in the opener.

Whitley hit a three-run homer, scoring Smith and Ryan Meadows, as Ranburne jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. The Bulldogs went up 4-0 in the fourth.

Lea scored West Morgan's lone run in the bottom of the fourth, but the momentum was short-lived. The Bulldogs put up two more runs in the sixth for the final margin.

Hatton awaits the winner of Saturday's game after sweeping Mars Hill 12-1 and 11-7.

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