Knights squeak it out
STAYING ALIVE n West Lauderdale's Todd Doolittle delivers a pitch to a Greene County batter Thursday. The Knights scored in the seventh inning to pull out a 6-5 win to take Game 1 of the best-of-three series. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
May 4, 2001
The magic show continued in Collinsville Thursday night as the seemingly impervious West Lauderdale Knights overcame a deficit in the seventh inning yet again to defeat the Greene County Wildcats 6-5 and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Class 3A South State Championship series.
On this night, Van Wilson provided the heroics in the bottom of the seventh, singling hard to left field to score Josh Snider and Knights' starting pitcher Todd Doolittle for the tying and winning runs.
In the midst of the wild celebration, legendary head coach Jerry Boatner put it all into perspective.
Perhaps it was fitting that Doolittle crossed the plate for the game-winner. The usually-solid starter began the playoffs throwing two no-hitters.
From there, he had nowhere to go but down and it showed as he was touched up by the Wildcats (27-11) for five runs on 11 hits, while striking out seven and walking three.
The Wildcats did plenty of that in the early going, starting the game off with a run on two hits.
But West (33-3) came right back in the bottom of the frame with two scores of their own to take a lead they would hold until the Wildcats scratched out a run on two hits in the fourth.
After GCHS catcher Alan Cook flew out to deep right, shortstop Nick Chatham reached on an infield error and took second on another.
After a walk, Wildcat starter Chad McIlwain singled to center to load the bases, before Gary Dixon knotted the game at four with another baseknock.
The Knights got out of the inning before any more damage could be done, but McIlwain (10-4) shut them down in order in the bottom half.
The tide turned in the fifth when Adam Brewer's RBI-double plated Lynn Simpson for the go-ahead run.
But the Wildcats failed to execute the double steal and had to settle for the one-run lead.
The sixth frame proved to be pivotal, as Greene County loaded the bases with the help of an error and a passed ball third strike. But somehow Doolittle was able to strike out the final two batters to deny GCHS any scores.
The seventh inning saw Trent Posey come on in relief. He grabbed the win by allowing only a hit in the inning.
The same could possibly be said of West, which committed five errors on the night.
But maybe Boatner summed up the special way a team like West is able to overcome them time and again.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. You can call him at 693-1551, ext. 3235 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.