Playmakers split four games in Dothan

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 4, 2002

Sports Editor

Another "first-ever" travel team for Troy, the 12-and-under Playmakers, went 2-2 in a Simply The Best tournament held in Dothan last weekend.

Troy bombed the Dothan Big Dawgs 14-1 and beat Dothan-Faulk 6-5, before dropping two close decisions on Saturday.

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A victory over Leesburg in Troy’s final game would have sent them to the championship contest on Sunday and also meant automatic qualification for the Simply The Best World Series, to be held in Panama City, Fla., later this month.

However, Leesburg’s Matt Sheffield hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to end the game and Troy’s hopes of advancing to a World Series. Sheffield’s hit came with two outs and one runner on. Teammate Gil Braun had reached previously with a single in the gap.

But Playmakers’ coach Freddie Teal said the loss didn’t spoil what his team had accomplished.

"This team had been playing together for just one week prior to this tournament," he said. "They were playing against teams that have been playing travel ball together for one or more years, or teams that were made up entirely of 12-year-olds. We’re proud of them."

Aaron Allen and Jake Smith combined to pick up the 14-1 win over Dothan’s Big Dawgs, while Troy hitters pounded out 12 hits in the game. David Williams knocked a three-run homer and Jonathan Wade was a perfect 3-for-3. Allen, Drew Vaughan and William Teal each had one hit. Zeb Swindall and Smith also had hits for the Playmakers.

Allen struck out five of the seven batters he faced in two innings of work. Smith allowed no hits and only one run in relief the rest of the way.

In the Saturday morning contest that followed, Teal threw four pitchers at Dothan-Faulk, a team he knew would be dangerous.

"Several of their players played with Newton, a team we faced in Dixie Youth sub-district," he said. "But our defense rallied to keep them away from home plate."

There was an hour and 30 minute time limit on all tournament games, and the clock ran out on Dothan-Faulk with Troy up 6-5.

The game lasted only four innings, with Smith earning the win and Allen picking up the save. Clifton Brady and Williams also pitched in the game.

Wade, Williams and Allen each had hits for Troy.

After a four hour break, Troy took on Eufaula. The Playmakers fell in four innings as Eufaula was able to score three runs before the time limit had elapsed and win by one run, 8-7.

Troy took a 7-5 lead after three innings of play, totalling nine hits in the game with Allen belting a two RBI homerun.

But following Troy’s offensive output, a new pitcher entered the game for Eufaula and held the Playmakers scoreless the rest of the way. That set the stage for Eufaula to score three runs off four hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to win it.

Allen was charged with the loss for Troy, after coming in as relief for Williams. Williams faced 15 batters, striking out six and allowing two runs off five hits.

Williams, Sam Jones, Allen and Swindall each delivered two hits for Troy. Wade added one.

Leesburg totalled three home runs, including the game winner, against Troy in the final game, but Teal was pleased with his team’s overall effort in the loss.

"Leesburg was one of the travel teams that’s been playing together for awhile," he said. "But we gave them a run for their money and held on until the very end."

Following a Leesburg homer in the first inning, Sam Jones doubled in Allen to tie the game. Troy scored three runs in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead, but Leesburg tied it up again in the fifth.

Trey Walters, who had reached on a single, came in to score the go-ahead run for Troy in the sixth, but Sheffield’s home run followed in Leesburg’s half of the inning.

Allen went the distance for Troy, retiring 10 of the 29 batters he faced at the plate. He gave up six runs on six hits.

The Playmakers finished with eight hits. Brady and Jace Colley had two, Williams, Allen, Jones and Walters each had one.

"These boys should be proud of the way that they played ball in their first tournament," said Teal. "We’re looking forward to the next one."

The Playmakers are scheduled to play in Alex City next weekend.

Special thanks to Deborah Teal for contributing reports on the Troy Playmakers.