CLEVELAND, Miss. — Many people did not give Miles much of a chance at any success in the 2017 NCAA Division II South Region Baseball Tournament this week. But West Alabama found out that the Golden Bears were not going to be anyone’s meek, sacrificial lamb.
Despite trailing by as many as seven runs, the Golden Bears held the lead over the Tigers needing six outs to advance to the next round. But UWA never made those outs. A two-out single on an 0-2 pitch by Marcus Morrisette drove in two runs that were the final margin in a 17-15 loss that ended Miles’ season Friday afternoon at Ferriss Field. That hit was the final volley in a game that saw 35 combined hits, four home runs, three lead changes, two ties and runs scored in every inning but the ninth of a contest that took nearly four hours to complete.
Senior second baseman Damion Williams went 3-for-5 with three runs batted in, freshman catcher Roderick Ransom had four hits, junior third baseman Xavius Burden had three hits that helped him finish the season with a batting average over .400, and junior center fielder Ryan Bargery and sophomore pitcher Jacob Schuster had appeared to put the Golden Bears (31-23) in position to pull of a big upset before UWA (35-20) made the big play in the eighth.
Miles trailed 4-1 going into the fourth but was able to even the score on a UWA fielding miscue that brought in two runs, followed by a RBI single to center for Williams that scored Darione Adkison. But Miles had some fielding miscues fo their own and that led to a big five-run frame in the bottom of the inning that gave the Tigers a 9-4 advantage.
The Golden Bears would trail 12-5 after five innings when Morrisette – who had four hits and drove in seven runs – hit a 3-run home run off Austin Pate. But Miles would put together an inning for the ages in the sixth. Reeves Brashear started the scoring with a RBI single and Bargery added a run on a squeeze bunt. Back-to-back two-run doubles by Adksion and Kolby Brannon drew the Golden Bears within one before Williams unloaded for a two-run homer to left that capped an eight-run inning and gave the team its first lead of the tournament, 13-12.
That was just the beginning of a game that would have both teams on a roller coaster of emotions. Schuster (2-4) had slowed the UWA offensive aggression by throwing a shutout frame in the sixth to preserve the lead and was one out away from doing so in the seventh. A pop fly that appeared catchable turned into disaster as it fell between Williams and Peyton Logan, allowing a run to score to tie the game. Another run would come around and the Tigers would retake the lead.
Still, Miles continued to battle. With two outs, Ransom singled to scored Brannon to tie the game. Following a walk to Brashear, Bargery singled to left which scored Ransom and gave the Golden Bears a 15-14 lead. But a one-out, bases-loaded walk to Luke Phillips tied the game before Morrisette’s clutch hit gave UWA the lead for good.
Courtesy: Miles Athletics