Trojans fall in 15-inning marathonPublished 11:52am Thursday, April 3, 2014
Tuesday’s 15-inning marathon between Central Alabama and Wallace State-Selma came down to which team wanted it more.
Judging by the scoreboard and CACC coach Wynn Fletcher, that team wasn’t the defending NJCAA National Champions, as the Patriots (14-22, 3-10 ACCC) outlasted the Trojans (17-14, 10-3 ACCC) 10-9.
Wallace State’s Toby King and CACC’s Wilson Adams held the bats in check offensively for much of the way. CACC struck first with an RBI single from Ryan Raspino, and the Patriots responded in kind in the top of the fourth.
Thanks to RBIs from Joe Pradat, Tyler Graham and Tyler Evans, CACC ended up trailing 4-2.
The Trojans recovered to tack on seven runs in the bottom of the sixth to go up 9-4, but the bottom fell out for CACC from there.
“First off, hat’s off to (the Patriots). They played hard, they came here to make something happen, and they did,” Fletcher said. “But the unraveling started long before the seventh inning. I’m happy with (Wallace State-Selma’s) effort, but I’m not really happy with ours. We had the one good inning, and we fought a little bit. But we did what we normally do – which is sit back and think no one is going to continue to play against us. You can’t be a front-runner and be a champion.”
The Patriots chipped away at the Trojans’ lead, scoring two runs to get within three of CACC.
In the top of the ninth, two hit batsmen and a walk loaded the bases for the Patriots.
After an RBI groundout from Alex Campbell, Patriots coach Frank Elliot then put speedster Kevin Vaughan in at pinch runner with the intent to go for broke.
“I was just hoping to cut off half of those runs in the next inning. I felt if we could do that, we’d have a shot to tie it up,” Elliot said. “I put in the fastest guy I had left at second, and told him don’t stop at third. They were going to have to get our guy out at home. We were going to take our chances, and it worked for us.”
Pradat then delivered a game-tying two-run double, scoring Vaughan and Bryce Jay.
From that point, the Trojans were locked up at the plate thanks to effective pitching from positional players.
Each team’s threat was snuffed out until the top of the 15th. After a pitch hit Kevin Simmons, he eventually advanced to third when Jay reached first on an error.
Vaughan reached on a walk to load them up, and a passed ball allowed Simmons to race home, giving the Patriots the lead.
“When you get a guy to third, there’s a lot of ways you can get him to score,” he said. “And that’s how we think. If we can just get him to third, there’s a bunch of ways to get him home. Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good, and we had some luck go our way. This team has gone through a lot. We’ve had close games that we had won, that we have lost. It’s time that we found a way to win”
Alex Campbell retired the side in the bottom half of the inning to seal it for Wallace State-Selma.
“You have to show up with some intensity from the first pitch of the game and expect to have to play. I have never said I’ve been disappointed in our teams here, but I’m disappointed in this one,” Fletcher said. “It doesn’t just start with today; it starts with everything they do every day. We’ve got guys worrying about hunting and fishing, and they can’t get a bunt down. They worry about what songs are playing during batting practice instead of executing a hit and run. It’s been a lack of focus for a long time, and we’ve gotten by with it. I knew it was a matter of time before something like this happened. I am completely disappointed with what we put on the field in this one. There was not a lot of focus or intent on what we were trying to get done.”