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Top seed Tide washed out by peaking Red Devils

Top seed Tide washed out by peaking Red Devils
Top seed Tide washed out by peaking Red Devils
South Fulton has saved its best for last.
The upstart Red Devils — seeded sixth in the District 14A Tournament — staved off elimination for a second straight game by ousting regular season champion Trenton 5-4 Monday afternoon at Elam Stadium.
The victory avenged a pair of regular season losses and bought SF (13-19-1) at least one more game in the double-elimination event that now consists of just four teams from an original field of eight.
The Redmen play No. 2 seed Halls today at 4:30 in another do-or-die game after the Tigers also remained alive Monday with a 14-4 thrashing of Humboldt.
Third-seeded Greenfield and No. 4 Union City play in the winner’s bracket final with the victor earning a spot in Thursday’s tourney championship game as well as spot in next week’s regionals.
South Fulton, which fields a starting lineup made up mostly of underclassmen, is playing arguably its best baseball of the season at the most opportune time.
The Red Devils took Greenfield to the limit before losing 2-1 in 10 innings in an opening round 14A tournament game, then whipped Bradford on Saturday before stunning top-seeded Peabody on Monday.
“I’d say we’re peaking at the right time,” third-year skipper Jeremy McFarland said following his team’s victory over a 20-win Trenton squad that had finished at the head of the pack in the regular season district standings.
“Actually, we’ve been pretty steady for a couple of weeks now. We’ve had 11 games that were decided by two runs or less, and we could very easily be a 20-win team ourselves.”
The stellar pitching of freshman Ryan Prince, timely hitting and relatively-solid defense have been trademarks during SF’s late-season run.
Prince added to his string of outstanding performances on Monday, just three days after throwing 118 pitches vs. Greenfield the Devils’ aforementioned tourney opener.
Against Peabody, he threw 106 pitches in six innings, striking out 10 and allowing just one run and five hits while walking but one to earn his sixth win in seven decisions.
Prince was backed by clutch hitting from his teammates as South Fulton scored all of its runs via two-out hits.
Jonathan Clouse had a pair of RBI singles that plated three runs in all as part of a perfect 4-for-4 day at the plate for the Big Red. Kyle Clouse and Chance Hamlin also plated tallies with hits with two-down while Harrison Hawks doubled and scored twice for SF.
The Red Devils made things interesting with some shaky fielding in the bottom of the seventh as a single, a couple of wild pitches and two errors allowed the Tide to score three times and put the tying run at second base with two out.
But Jonathan Clouse, who relieved Prince to start the inning, retired Todd Edward Lumley on a comebacker to clinch the victory and earn the Redmen at least one more game.
“At this point, the teams that pitches the best, plays good defense and gets timely hitting are the ones who advance,” McFarland said when previewing today’s game with Halls. “We’ve had two pretty good games against them during the regular season, and I’m hopeful we continue to do the things that we’ve been doing lately to give ourselves a chance.”
The teams split a pair of regular season meetings.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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