Tigers battle back three times for playoff win

DHS vs Valley-9291Demopolis (23-6) battled out of a deficit three times Friday night to pull out a 9-8 win over Valley in game one of their first round Class 5A playoff series.

The final comeback effort came in the fifth when the Tigers hung a three spot on the board while sending eight batters to the plate in the frame.

“We could battle back and tie it, but we never could get ahead,” Demopolis coach Ben Ramer said. “We got ahead when it counted at the end.”

Tyler Oates led off the fifth with a single to left before Michael Brooker drew a walk and gave way to courtesy runner Seth Aiken.

A Josh Mangum sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position for the top of the order. Matt Eicher followed with his fourth hit of the night to score Oates and cut the Valley lead to 8-7. Brock Montgomery drew a walk and allowed Aiken to tie the game when he scored from third on a wild pitch.

DHS vs Valley-9148The eventual game-winning run slid its way into home when Eicher broke from third on a passed ball and beat the play at the plate to give Demopolis its first and only lead of the night.

Mason Rogers came on in the sixth for a two-inning save to preserve that lead with a no-hit, six-strikeout performance for his sixth save of the season. Rogers’ outing included a strikeout of the side in the top of the seventh.

Demopolis opened the night with a 4-0 deficit as Valley sent nine men to the plate during a first-inning rally. Valley got its first run when Matt Foster flew out to right to plate Drew Quinton.

A Joshua Meigs double sent Brandon Foster and Blake Justiss home to put Valley up 3-0. Tyler Wright capped the first-inning scoring when he roped a single to center to drive in William Henderson and stake VHS to an early 4-0 lead.

DHS vs Valley-8918“We were certainly not perfect,” Ramer said. “We did kick it a little bit and we were not as sharp on the mound as we have been. But something you cannot measure with numbers is fight.”

Undaunted, the Tigers began their first of three comeback efforts in the home half of the frame.

Eicher opened with a single to right before Montgomery doubled to right. Rogers drove in Eicher with a fly out to right to get Demopolis on the board.

Wesley Anderson followed with a sacrifice fly to left to score Montgomery. Devin Stroud singled to left and later moved to second on a passed ball. An ensuing passed ball caromed away from the Valley catcher and allowed Stroud to go from second to home and cut the Tiger deficit to 4-3.

DHS vs Valley-8900The Tigers tied the game in the second inning when Mangum drew a walk, moved to third on an errant pickoff attempt and scored on a RBI single by Eicher.

Valley then wiggled off the hook, leaving the bases loaded to end the inning before recapturing the lead in the third. Henderson scored on an error and Wright touched home when Matthew Crews drew a bases-loaded walk to put VHS up 6-4.

Demopolis answered again in the bottom of the fourth when Eicher led off the frame with a single and set the stage for a two-run homer by Rogers.

DHS vs Valley-8826Valley took the advantage again in the top of the fifth when a Crews RBI single plated Henderson and a Brandon Foster RBI walk scored Luke Thompson to leave Demopolis down 8-6. Brooker (3-1) worked two and a third innings for the win.

Demopolis is scheduled to play Valley in game two of the series at 11 a.m. Saturday. If needed, the decisive third game would be played at 1:30 p.m.