Late losses spell early ending for IndiansPublished 11:29am Thursday, May 1, 2014
Russ Brooks admitted he purposely put his young, Wetumpka team through tough stretches this season to battle test them.
As it entered the postseason-deciding series with Prattville, the Indians still hadn’t seen this outcome. Holding leads in the final innings of the first two games, one at Prattville and one at home, the playoffs slipped through its grasp with its 5-4 heartbreaking home loss to the Lions Friday.
“I scheduled us a very tough couple of weeks in there,” Brooks said. “We put them in a lot of adverse situations early for this reason right here–having to go play Stanhope, having to beat them twice and having to beat Prattville to get in. I really think it helps.
“It didn’t work out against Prattville, but I think it helped us stay close because we had seen everything you could see by the time we played these guys.”
The Lions walked off Tuesday on a hit-by-pitch in the 11th inning to take a 3-2 victory to force the Tribe to sweep PHS Friday to earn a playoff berth.
Ahead 4-2 and three outs separating WHS from enacting a winner-take-all game three, the Lions plated three runs in the top of the seventh to grab and hold on to the 5-4 win to end Wetumpka’s season.
“The biggest thing is you tell the boys to give you a chance to win late,” Brooks said. “The kids played hard, everything seemed to be going good. Had the lead, we just couldn’t hold it. Same thing (Friday) in the first game. Played hard, the kids came with a good attitude and just couldn’t hold the lead at the end.
“Losses are my fault and that’s just kind of the way it is. I’ll take responsibility for that. But the kids, they did what we asked them to do. They played hard, they gave us a chance to be in the playoffs on the last day of the season. We had a chance, it just didn’t work out.”
Sophomore Ryan Crockett helped Wetumpka jump ahead Friday, with a two-run hit in the second. Junior catcher Triston Hughes added an RBI, chasing Prattville starter Gideon Moyer-Craft.
For the Tribe, sophomore pitcher Cody Herring continued his effectiveness, giving up just two until the seventh. After a hit batsman loaded the bases with no outs, Herring walked Elijah Stewart to bring in Tanner Baumann to shrink his team’s advantage to 4-3.
Brooks pulled his starter for senior Logan Burdette.Donovan Fisher, the next batter, dropped a pop fly over the head of the infielders and scored two runs to give PHS the final 5-4 lead.
“These boys don’t quit,” Brooks said. “I’m proud of them, proud of the coaches.”
Brooks lauded the leadership shown from his senior Burdette, Charlie Crenshaw, Dalton Shepherd and Lee Gunter.
“They’re some good kids, good leaders, they came and helped us everyday at practice and did what seniors are supposed to do. I can’t ask for anything out of them but what they did. I hope next year’s bunch will do what they did, just kind of feed off of that.”