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Extra-inning loss ends White County's season

POSTED: May 12, 2011 10:34 p.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

White County High's Brandon McConnell, left, is greeted by teammates after scoring for the Warriors in the first inning of their Thursday afternoon state playoff game at White County High School.

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CLEVELAND - In a game in which neither team would let up, Allatoona emerged the winner over White County in the third and deciding game Thursday, winning 7-6 in a 10-inning marathon in the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs.

Isaiah Aluko's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 10th inning gave the Buccaneers (27-5), a No. 3 seed from Region 7, the series win that sent them to the quarterfinals, where they'll face the winner of the Thomson-Eastside game.

It's the second top seed in a row Allatoona has beaten to advance. White County was the champion of Region 8, and the Bucs eliminated Region 5 winner St. Pius X in the opening round.

"Throughout this year, we have been pounding, and we've never stopped," said junior pitcher Clate Schmidt, winner of Game 1 who pitched three scoreless innings of relief Thursday. "We've always had that feeling that no one can stop us. White County played a heck of a game, and we were just on the lucky end of the stick this time."

The score was knotted at 6 through six innings and stayed that way until the 10th, when Bryce Richey led off with a single and stole second. He took third on the catcher's throwing error. White County then intentionally walked the next two batters to create a force out at each base. After a pop fly from Elliot Baker, the stage was set for Aluko.

"We deserve to move on, and I'm just looking forward to the next series," Aluko said.

The Bucs opened the scoring with two runs in the first on RBI singles from Nick Hall and Marlon Melendez. Both runs were unearned after lead-off hitter Schmidt reached and advanced to second on two shortstop errors.

The Warriors responded in the second with an RBI single from Bo Medlock and tied the game with a towering solo home run to center from Luke Crumley.

But the Bucs answered in the third inning with two more runs on a fielder's choice and walked batter, both with the bases loaded.

The Bucs led 4-2 after three, but the Warriors (25-5) refused to go away, and in the fifth, Adam Hooper connected on a three-run homer to give the Warriors a 5-4 lead.

"We didn't want this to be our last game, so we just came out and fought as hard as we could," Hooper said. "I figured (after the homer), we'd start rolling."

But White County gave Allatoona the lead back in the bottom half of the inning, with Aluko leading off with a strikeout, but reaching first on a passed ball. He later came around to score on a wild pitch. Richey knocked in Royal, who walked, on a fielder's choice to give the Bucs a 6-5 lead.

The Warriors tied the game in the sixth when Medlock scored from second on a throwing error.

Then it became a battle of the bullpens.

The Bucs pulled starter Lucas Brown after six innings (six hits, six runs, six strikeouts) and handed the ball to Schmidt, who shut down the Warriors from the seventh through ninth innings.

After Mills and Spencer Adams combined for 4 1/3 innings to begin the game, Dylan Lee took over in the fifth, David Sosebee got the Warriors to the eighth, the Lee - who stayed in the game as a fielder - returned to the mound and pitched the remainder of the game.

Michael Royal pitched a scoreless frame in the 10th for Allatoona and earned the win.

The Warriors had their chances to score in extra innings with runners on first and second in the eighth. But Hayden Cummins' sharply hit ground ball was fielded by the second baseman, who was clobbered by a Warriors runner who was called out on interference, to end the inning.

White County didn't see another base runner the rest of the game.

Earlier in the seventh inning, White County had runners on first and second with one out, but hit into a double play.

"I just thought it was two great teams going at each other," Bucs coach Keith Hansen said.

Though the Warriors were hoping for a deeper run in the postseason, they can enjoy a monumental 2011 campaign. They won a region title, won more than 20 games and advanced past the first round - all program firsts.

"They set some goals at the beginning of the year, and those six seniors really stepped up and played like (they wanted to meet the goals) all year," Warriors coach John Brown said. "They played extremely well for me all year, and you couldn't ask for a better group of kids."

Sosebee was 2-for-5 with a run scored, and Crumley scored twice. Hooper and Medlock were 3-for-5.



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