By Johnny Sanders, Sports Editor
MOODY – The first-ever 411 Day in Moody, Alabama was somewhat unpredictable, especially on the baseball diamond. A wild play at the end capped off a 5-run inning for the Blue Devils, who entered the seventh with a 4-0 deficit to the Leeds Green Wave. Despite Green Wave Pitcher Andrew Howard throwing a great 6 1/3 innings, Leeds could not hold on to the lead in the final inning and Moody would get the 5-4 win, but it was not without controversy.
The game started out with a scoreless first inning before Leeds put 2 runs on the board in the second. Ty Bedell singled to center field, bringing Jarod Latta home. Peyton Moore was on third base and stole home to make it 2-0 Leeds after 3 innings.
The game would go 4 innings without a score with both defenses playing lights out and Leeds’ Howard, along with Moody pitchers Payton Isbell and Brady Dodd, engaged in quite the pitchers’ duel.
The seventh inning is where things got interesting. In the top of the inning, Leeds’ Will Landers took the third pitch from Dodd and knocked it out of the park for a solo home run to make it 3-0 Leeds. Moore got on base on a ground ball to first base that was mishandled and then stole second. At this point, the momentum was strongly in favor of the Green Wave. Graham Gulock hit a triple to right field, driving in Moore and making it 4-0 Leeds heading into the bottom of the final inning.
Back in the sixth inning, Moody had numerous runners in scoring position, but could never get them home. That all changed in the seventh. With the bases loaded, Chase Marshall walked and Carson Mitchell scored Moody’s first run of the game. Bourne Grant then hit a single to right field and drove in Landon Cherry and Isbell to make it 4-3 Leeds. Johnny Earl was walked to load the bases once again and Dodd hit a single to left field to bring Marshall home and tie the game at 4.
Seth Pardue would strike out the next batter to give Moody 2 outs and bring Mitchell to the plate. With a 3-1 count, Mitchell would look at a second strike and, thinking it was a ball, he would begin to walk to first base. It was not a ball, but a strike. Pinch-runner Colby Graves, who was on first base, would start to run toward second and the Leeds catcher would look to pick him off. During the attempted run-down, Moody’s Grant ran home and scored the winning run as the umpire called Graves safe back on first base.
With a confused look on their faces, the coaches from Moody watched as the Leeds coaches argued their case that the runner was tagged. The umpires insisted that the first baseman missed the tag and the final was 5-4 Moody in an unlikely comeback for the home team.
While disappointed, Coach Jake Wingo remained optimistic. “I was proud of how our guys competed. Andrew Howard pitched a heck of a game. He threw 6 1/3. We couldn’t execute with runners in scoring position. We had them there all night and couldn’t get them in and that really hurt us. Give Moody credit. They’re a great team. They fought hard. They showed tremendous fight, not giving up. We had some unfortunate circumstances that happened in that seventh inning. That’s going to happen in the game of baseball. You’ve just got to overcome them. It’s all about how you respond to adversity. I’m excited to see how our guys respond.”
Moody’s Eamonn Kelly had the following to say about the game, “Great baseball game! Just a weird way to win a baseball game. A lot of confusion at the end and it could have gone either way. It could have been an our or a safe and it worked out for us that it was safe. Their pitcher played great. He had over 12 K’s and kept us off balance the whole game. We gave ourselves an opportunity in the seventh even though we allowed 2 runs in the top. We knew we had done this before. We finally got to their bullpen and when you do that good things often happen. My team is resilient. They’ve got a great baseball team and it’s going to be a battle again on Thursday. I’m just proud of my guys and it was a big win for us.”
The win improves Moody to 16-10 and puts them in the driver’s seat in the area. Leeds falls to 17-12 after the loss. As if Tuesday was not enough, these two will square off again on Wednesday night, this time at Leeds.