Dothan wins opening game 7-6

Published 10:41 pm Friday, July 24, 2009

Dothan Post 12 and Tuscaloosa Post 34 will meet in Saturday’s winner’s bracket game at the Alabama American Legion State Tournament, this after Dothan won its opening game against West Alabama Post 29 7-6.

Saturday’s game will feature the two teams that have dominated the landscape of American Legion baseball in Alabama for the last 30 years.

“Of the last 30 state championships, 24 have been won by either us or Tuscaloosa,” said Dothan head coach Larry Tubbs. “They’ve got 12 and we’ve got 12, so it’s definitely a big ballgame. We lost to them in the state championship east of the last two years, so it’s a big ballgame for us because of who it is. We have tremendous respect for Tuscaloosa, so it ought to be interesting.”

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While the game will be the marquee match up of the tournament thus far, it almost did not come to fruition, as Dothan had to come from behind to defeat West Alabama.

Dothan also had to overcome control issues from its pitching staff. Post 12 pitchers gave up only five hits, but allowed eight walks in the game.

“Our pitching struggles at times,” Tubbs said. “We gave up a lot of walks tonight, and that helped them to score runs, which led to it being a close ball game.”

Tubbs was also critical of his team’s performance with runners on base.

“Another thing is that we left too many runners on base,” Tubbs said. “We had runners in scoring position several times and we just couldn’t get them in. But, we are pleased with the win.”

West Alabama took the lead in the top half of innings on two separate occasions, only to see Dothan grab it right back in the bottom half of those innings.

West Alabama struck for three in the top of the third to go up 4-2, but self-destructed in the bottom of third, committing three errors that allowed Dothan to score two unearned runs and four runs total to take a 6-4 lead.

Dothan added another run in the seventh off of a solo home run by Robert Anderson.

“That was the at-bat that won the ballgame,” Tubbs said. “It gave us that three-run cushion, which was big because we knew they had some guys who could really hit the ball and we needed that cushion.”

As it turned out, Dothan would need the extra run. West Alabama rallied in the top of the eighth to score two runs on a two-run homer by Cody Freeman.

West Alabama also put the tying run on second with nobody out, but Dothan pitcher Gregory Nolen was able to get out of the inning and preserve the win.

With the win, Dothan and Tuscaloosa will face off Saturday at 1:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to the state championship game.