Pike Lib ousts Fort Dale

Published 4:36 pm Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Game three of Fort Dale Academy’s second-round playoff showdown with the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots culminated in a back-and-forth tug of war for the lead.

Unfortunately for Fort Dale, it was Patriots that got the final pull in a clutch 7-5 win.

The Eagles had the bases loaded with the score tied 5-5 in the sixth inning.

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But Pike Lib pitcher Connor Vowell came to the rescue once again as a relief pitcher in the final two innings of play to stop any and all Fort Dale production at the plate, cutting the inning—and a chance at a comeback—short with three men on base.

Fort Dale Academy head baseball coach Josh Beverly said that despite his team coming up short, it was a classic baseball series between two evenly matched teams.

“We had a base running mistake here and there, but it was a great game and a great series,” Beverly said.

“We hate to come out on the losing end, but we battled until the very end. It was intense and it was great to be a part of it.  You never know; if we had one more inning or two, we might’ve jumped back in front.”

It would’ve been one lead change of four in total, as Friday’s match was a constant battle for momentum.

But Fort Dale’s hopes were dashed for good in the bottom of the sixth, in which the Patriots loaded bases of their own.

Brian Adams put the nail in the coffin with a two-run single that gave the Patriots the 7-5 win and a ticket to the AISA semifinals.

And while the Eagles’ championship run has been cut short, Beverly said that doesn’t make his team any less of a special group—especially his seniors.

“I’ve coached most of them for four years; they love baseball, and it was the last time they would play for Fort Dale,” Beverly said.

“Chase Whiddon and Chip Taylor have been with us for four years, and those two guys are really our captains.  I don’t know if you can replace them, but you can try to find somebody who’s going to step up and do their jobs.”

Equally difficult to replace is Ryan Burkett, who threw a two-hitter in game two of the Pike Lib series.

Burkett threw 66 innings throughout the 2014 campaign, only walking six batters.

“They battled their rear ends off until the very end, and you know it’s going to end sometime, and the only way you were going to end happy is if we won a state championship, and we didn’t do that,” Beverly said.

“But you couldn’t ask for any more.”