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Junior Dixie Boys take two from Enterprise, march to State

EUFAULA – Austin Ingram got a rare green light from Coach Gary Fox when he stepped up to the plate in the sixth inning on Thursday night.

With Troy up 12-5 against Enterprise, in the championship game of the district tournament, Ingram was staring at bases loaded and no outs on the board.

“I did something I’ve never told a batter before,” Fox said. “But I told him with no strikes or one strike, ‘you have my permission to swing for the fences.’”

And that’s just what Ingram did, connecting for a walk-off grand slam that gave Troy a 16-5 win over Enterprise and the Junior Dixie Boys District Championship, after nearly five hours of hard-fought baseball battles.

“It wasn’t easy,” Fox said after the double-header. “But I’m really kind of speechless. These guys came through big time. They knew that had to win the first game, and they did.”

Troy, 1-1 in district play, had lost to Enterprise (2-0) earlier in the week and had to win the first game of the night in order to force the second game of the championship and keep their hopes of going to the state tournament alive.

They did so with a hard-fought 10-7 win that started with a commanding 5-0 lead in the first inning, thanks to five hits and three Enterprise errors. Chase Hartley drove in one RBI in the inning and Rush Hixon connected for a double to centerfield for two RBIs. Hartley stole home for the fourth run and Jason Fleming drove in the fifth run.

Winning that first game gave the Troy team a boost of confidence going into the championship game against Enterprise, Fox said. “I told the guys before the games that Enterprise is a good team, but we’re a better team. I think they started to believe that.”

That was key in the second game, when Enterprise took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Troy answered in the bottom of the first, with an RBI single by Hartley, but by the bottom of the second inning Enterprise was ahead 5-1. Troy scored six runs in the bottom of the second inning, taking a 7-5 lead over Enterprise.

In the third inning, Troy rallied again at the plate, scoring four runs on hits by Hooks, Barnes, Ingram and Baggett. Troy scored one run in the bottom of the fifth, with a sacrifice fly by Burden, giving the Trojans a 12-5 lead.

The Junior Dixie Boys travel to Scottsboro July 16-21 for the state tournament.