Red Bay, Tharptown win area titles
The Red Bay Tigers and Tharptown Wildcats baseball teams both won their respective areas this week.
Red Bay took tops in 2A Area 12 by downing Phil Campbell, Lamar County and Sulligent, while Tharptown had to get past the big bats of the Hackleburg Panthers.
The Wildcats were tied with Hackleburg at the top of 1A Area 13 after the end of a two-game series.
The teams had to play a one-game playoff to decide who took top honors in the area.
Will Washington took the mound for the Wildcats in the game and allowed Hackleburg only one run, helping Tharptown pick up the 7-1 win.
The pitching of Red Bay’s Austin Malone down the stretch helped Red Bay take the top seat in their area.
This marks the first time since 1993 that the Red Bay Tigers have won 2A Area 12 in baseball, and the first time since 1994 that they have made the playoffs in the sport.
“We had won some games but then we lost 10 straight,” Red Bay head coach Donnie Hastings said.
“Five of those were by one run, and two of them were by two runs.
We were finally getting some hits, and we knew if we could string some hits together and get some walks that we’d be in.
We played one of our best games against Lamar County. We got a two-out clutch hit and had some clutch pitching.
The first game against Phil Campbell was another come-from-behind win.
We’ve had tons of distractions this season. If someone was missing we only worried about the nine that were out there.
It means a lot to me because I grew up in Red Bay.
This is the first time since I’ve been here that all the players are pulling in the same direction, and a couple of our young players have stepped up.
We want baseball to be a bigger deal at Red Bay.”
Washington came on to pitch for Tharptown in the playoff game against Hackleburg without having pitched over an inning all season.
He was also recovering from labrum surgery.
Despite all that, the young man pitched all seven innings of the deciding game and allowed only one run against a good offensive team in the Panthers.
“I kept telling them we’ve got to hit the baseball,” Tharptown head coach Derek Ergle said.
“We knew we didn’t hit well in the first game against them.
We took batting practice for about an hour before the second game, and we felt a lot better about hitting against them.
It’s a great feeling [to win the area.] This is really a new program. The kids are young, but we set the bar for future teams. Will Washington stepped up for us.
He fought through pain to help us win.
[Winning the area] is everything I’d dreamed it would be.”