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Elba’s Henderson breaks Bulldogs’ hearts

Sports Editor

ELBA – Marcus Henderson’s grand slam home run in the bottom of the seventh off Pike County relief pitcher Dee Price catapulted the Elba Tigers to the Class 3A Area 2 title with a 5-2 victory.

Henderson’s base-clearing shot overshadowed an otherwise fine defensive performance by starting pitcher D.J. Cannon and the Bulldogs. The freshman right-hander held the Tigers scoreless through six innings of play, receiving help from his defense to allow no Elba runner to advance past second base.

And when left fielder Rodney Lee recorded his second put out of the seventh, with Elba’s Richard Myers on first after taking base on balls, it appeared the Bulldogs would be able to force the tiebreaker in Area 2. Chris Bell had put Pike County on top in the fourth with his line drive two-run single down the first base foul line.

But Cannon’s troubles began when lead-off batter Brandon Petty bounced a long double off the center field fence, moving both him and Myers into scoring position. At that point, Pike County head coach Fred Holland decided to go with Price to close the game.

Price forced a hit out of Kyle English, but Cannon, who had moved over to shortstop, was too late with the throw to first and Myers came home for Elba.

The junior then issued a walk to Jason Curran and Henderson took a full count before delivering his game winning hit over the right field fence.

Pike County’s defense was solid throughout committing just two errors in the game. Bell, playing center field, went to the fence in the bottom of the third to snag a hard hit ball by Petty, robbing the Tigers of a sure base runner. Cannon allowed just four hits in the game.

Derrick Thomas had a single for Elba in the fourth, Myers had a hit in fifth and Ralston Moore added a basehit in the sixth.

For the Bulldogs, Bell had the one single and two RBIs. Chris Nickson had a basehit, as did Josh Daniel, Price, Lonzo Foster and David Fiveash.

Bell’s single in the fourth scored both Foster and Cannon for Pike County.

The Bulldogs will take to the road on Wednesday for the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. Pike County travels to Dadeville.