For the second day in a row, Dadeville’s offense stalled, and it came at the worst time for the Tiger baseball squad.
Against Montgomery Academy in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs, Dadeville didn’t hit the ball well, managing only six hits in a decisive Game 3. But it was a pair of costly errors in the fourth inning turned out to be the nail in Dadeville’s coffin, as it fell to the Eagles, 3-0, bringing its season to a close.
“Really mental mistakes is what it was,” Dadeville coach Curtis Martin said. “It was a big game with a lot of pressure, and I just hate it for these seniors because they’ve worked so hard. But we had those two errors, and that was really the difference in the game. Instead of it still being 0-0, it was 3-0.”
Dadeville kept the Eagles off the board through the first three innings but couldn’t do the same in what ended up being the decisive fourth. Charlie Sipes led off Montgomery Academy with a single, and he was moved along by a sacrifice bunt. The Eagles then scored their first run as Thomas Speaks reached on an error, giving Sipes time to score. Eric Doh then got on base via an unsuccessful fielder’s choice that left Speaks in scoring position.
No. 9-hitter Mac Martin took full advantage, smashing a double to left field and scoring two runs to give Montgomery Academy more than enough insurance.
Throughout the game, the Tigers tried to battle back, putting runners on in all but one inning. But their hits didn’t come at opportune times. It wasn’t until the sixth inning Dadeville got anything but a two-out hit.
“Their pitcher had a really good breaking ball; his fastball was low 80s (mph) and he was mixing it up,” Martin said. “The first time through the lineup, they had a first-pitch fastball then a curveball. Then the second time, it was a first-pitch curveball, so they had us mixed up and off balance the whole game. That last inning, we tried to battle; we just couldn’t get it done.”
Slade McCullers looked to get things going in the sixth inning when the Tigers finally got a leadoff single. But the Eagles turned a double play and Britton Kohn struck out his ninth of the night to quickly end the threat.
In the end, Dadeville went down swinging. Alex Walker led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, and Cameron Tidwell was hit by a pitch to put two on. But after a pair of strikeouts, things didn’t look good for the Tigers. Jake Outlaw was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Montgomery Academy induced a popup to end the game.
Despite the loss, first-year coach Martin led his Tigers to their first playoff appearance in three seasons and had them in the top 10 in Class 3A by the end of the regular season.
“We won a lot of big games, and we won a lot of games against Class 4, 5 and 6A schools,” he said. “We battled, and I’m proud of these guys. I wish we could’ve went a little deeper, which I felt like we could have. But offensively, these last couple days, we really struggled. But overall, I thought we had a decent year; it just wasn’t the results we wanted.”