In a pair of unlikely finishes, the DeKalb County Tiger baseball team took second place in the District 7-AA Tournament in Baxter, Wednesday night.
The Tigers had to rally from two runs down in the bottom of the seventh inning to eliminate Smith County, 7-6, in the loser's bracket final. The DC boys then let a two-run lead slip away in the bottom of the seventh against top-seeded Upperman in the championship game, and lost, 3-2, in eight innings.
DeKalb County and Smith County played four scoreless innings with just hit between them in the first game. The Owls finally struck with a run in the top of the fifth inning, and the Tigers countered with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Dustin Angel sparked a four-run sixth inning for the Owls, as he led off the inning with a solo home run. Smith County jumped ahead, 5-2, midway through the sixth, but DeKalb, again, rallied. The Tigers pulled to within 5-4 on Corey Atnip's two-run single, and appeared to score the game's tying run on Colt Stewart's fly out to left field. Chris Sliger tagged third and bolted for home, but Sliger was called out at third after it was ruled he left the bag before the catch was made.
Smith County tacked on a run in the top of the seventh on a Bryce Haskin RBI single, which made it a 6-4 game. DeKalb got a one-out triple from Trey Finley in the bottom of the seventh, and Destry Wiggins plated the senior on an RBI double. Cody Atnip reached on an error, and Bray Page plated Wiggins with an RBI single.
Zack Rowland grounded out to put two outs on the board, but as Joseph Bowen came to the plate, the first pitch from Angel got under the glove of the catcher, Haskin, and into the back stop. Atnip streaked down the line from third base and scored the winning run, sending the Tigers on to a championship showdown with Upperman.
Page pitched the full seven innings for the Tigers, and allowed six earned runs on seven hits, struck out seven, walked four and hit a batter.
In the second game, DeKalb County did not put a runner on base until the top of the fourth inning against the top-seeded Bees, but maneuvered an unearned run around in the inning to take a 1-0 lead. Chris Sliger scored a second Tiger unearned run in the top of the sixth, and the team carried a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh, aided by a strong pitching outing by senior, John Malone, and good defense.
Malone put two on with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, and Cameron Jones smacked a two-run single to tie the game. Malone and the Tigers got out of the jam with the winning run at second, on a fly out by Johnny Miller to right field.
Malone got on base to open the eighth inning, but Upperman starter, Brian Walton, was pulled from the mound in favor of Jon Stafford, who retired the next three Tigers in order. McCullough Wallace replaced Malone on the mound in the bottom of the eighth, and had his very first pitch taken over the left field fence by Michael Taylor for a game-ending walk-off home run.
DeKalb County finished with three hits in the game, a single apiece by Malone and Page, and a double by Cody Atnip. Malone worked seven innings on the mound, and allowed two runs on six hits, struck out four and walked five.
The Tigers are now 24-7 on the season, and will travel to Goodpasture for the Region 4-AA Tournament semi-finals, at 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon.