Red Bay edges Vina 7-6 in extra innings
For the FCT
BELGREEN – Vina nearly pulled off an upset of Red Bay in the Franklin County Baseball Tournament but the Tigers rallied for a 7-6 win in extra innings Thursday afternoon.
Vina coach Greg Hamilton said his game plan was to go up early with several runs, and the Red Devils responded by jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Red Bay found itself playing catch-up, and it took the Tigers offense three innings to catch and tie the Red Devils' early lead.
Vina's Brent Townsend led off in the first with a single to center field. Senior Blake Thorn moved Townsend to second on a sacrifice bunt, and Randy Barnes picked-up the first run with a double that scored Townsend. Cass White singled in Barnes for Vina's second score and Matthew Hester followed White's lead with an RBI single to go ahead 3-0.
Red Bay picked up one run in the bottom of the first after Ely Cox doubled and later stole third. Stephen Prestage was hit by a pitch, giving the Tigers a runner on first and third, and Cody Armstrong singled in Cox from third to make it 3-1.
Red Bay cut the Red Devils' lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the second when Hopkins singled in Kevin Hastings.
The Tigers tied the game at 3-3 when Prestage led off the bottom of the third with an over-the-fence home run.
The Tigers had to play from behind again after Vina came back in the top of the fifth with three more runs to lead Red Bay 6-3.
In the top of the fifth, Thorn came through with a triple and an RBI on a bunt that left the Tigers scrambling in the infield. Thorn stole home on the next pitch and Randy Barnes' home run stretched the Red Devils' advantage to three runs.
But Red Bay bounced back in the bottom of the fifth with three more runs to tie the game at 6-6.
Red Bay's Chase Lindsey doubled to bring in two runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to one and Hastings tied the score at 6-6 on a sacrifice bunt.
Vina threatened in the top of the sixth but Hopkins, who earned the win on the mound with 12 strikeouts and seven hits allowed, rang up a strikeout with the bases loaded for the third out.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers placed runners in scoring position on first and second after Lindsey and Hastings singled through the Vina infield but both were left stranded.
Vina couldn't push across a run in the seventh and Red Bay's chances for a seventh inning win ended on a strikeout.
After the Red Devils failed to add any runs in the eighth, Hopkins doubled in the bottom of the eighth, and was later advanced to third on a single from Ely Cox.
Hopkins scored the winning run by stealing home on a slide following a wild pitch behind the plate.
Red Bay (14-12) advanced to play Belgreen at noon Saturday, while Phil Campbell and Tharptown were scheduled to play at 2 p.m. in the other semifinal game.