Childersburg wins Ron Johnson Classic
by ERICH HILKERT
SYLACAUGA—With birthdays on both sides of the dugout, either Childersburg head coach Chad Slaten or Munford head coach Noel Stephens was bound to receive a nice present. It wound up being Slaten, as Childersburg squeaked out a 5-4 win in the championship game of the Ron Johnson Classic held at B.B. Comer.

“It was a good little gift,” Slaten said. “We didn’t approach hitting like I would like for us to. But you’ve got to tip your hat to Munford and their pitcher. They kept us off-balance, and we never did adjust to what they were doing, but we won the ballgame. It’s like I told our team: ‘When you win and don’t do the things you want to do at the plate, that’s a good thing’. But Munford’s guys did a good job. They battled and Coach Stephens is doing a really good job with them. We’re glad to get the tournament championship. It’s not necessarily a good thing to be a year older when you’re my age, but I guess that’s just how it goes. But it was a good birthday. The guys played hard. We didn’t play as well as we would have liked, but a lot of that has to do with Munford. But we played hard and we got the win, so that’s a good thing.”

Munford put a run on the board in the top of the first against starting pitcher Reeves Brashear. Munford’s starting pitcher Logan Kirk led off with an infield grounder that managed to get through for a hit. Brett Haynie hit another grounder, this one for an out. Blake Haynie hit yet another grounder, this one into the gap between second and first base for a single that scored a run.

Childersburg answered in the bottom half of the inning. Zach Lightsey drew a walk, and then Brashear smashed a home run to deep center field. Childersburg tacked on another run when Peyton Logan tagged up when Walker Holmes flied out to right field, giving Childersburg a 3-1 lead.

In the top of the second inning, Tranas Patterson drew a walk and got into scoring position, when Austin Campbell laced a hard-hit line drive. But Trevor Bates made a diving catch to get Childersburg out of the inning.

Brashear found himself in trouble again in the third inning with the bases loaded. Patterson hit a grounder to third base, but the throw to first base wasn’t in time, scoring a run to cut the lead to 3-2.

Will Donahoo started the bottom of the fourth with a single that was followed up by Jamel Roston with a double to right field that scored Donahoo, making it 4-2.

Munford was able to tie it up in the top of the fifth. Blake Haynie got a hard-hit single to left-center field, which prompted Slaten to put Zach Lightsey in as the relief pitcher. Haynie got to second on a passed ball. Clay Upchurch hit a single into the gap at first base and second base, which scored Haynie. Upchurch was caught stealing second base. Matthew Smith got a single and Patterson followed it up with a single that scored Smith.

In the bottom of the sixth, Walker Holmes hit a single into right field, and he wound up getting to second base on an error by the right fielder when he was unable to get his glove on the ball. With the bases loaded and one out, Justin Baker hit a grounder to third base, but the throw wasn’t in time and Holmes scored on what would eventually be the game-winning run.

“We brought Zach Lightsey in and I thought Zach pitched great,” Slaten said. “He shut them down when he came in and then shut them down the rest of the game. In that last inning, Walker Holmes gets the big hit, gets on second base and that was the winning run. Walker’s holding the bat pretty good all day long. Walker’s one of the guys that was doing what we asked him to do based on the type of pitching we were seeing. He did pretty good all day. He had that big hit and then we got that run in and that was the winning run.”

Lightsey finished as the winning pitcher, while Brett Haynie was charged with the loss.

Despite the loss, Stephens was pleased with the way his team played overall, winning three out of the four games they played at the Ron Johnson Classic.

“We faced Talladega in the County Tournament and they kind of handed it to us,” he said. “Our guys stepped up today. I’m very pleased and impressed with the way they’ve handled the pressure and the way they’re playing. As long as we keep improving every game, we’ll be all right. Going into area play next week, I believe we gained a lot of experience, especially with our young guys playing good competition. By us playing good competition, it’s only going to make us better come area time next week against Lincoln.”

© 2013