By Brian DeGruchy
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Viper Baseball Academy from Brownsboro, Alabama defeated the Clarksville (Tenn.) Orioles, 7-2, to complete a sweep of its final day of pool play in the 14U Big South Regional Championships on Sunday at Jim Warren Park.
“Our biggest issue all season has been throwing strikes, and in both games we played today we had a total of three walks as a pitching staff. We pounded the strike zone today just as well as we have seen all summer. Our biggest key is to pound the zone as much as possible,” said head coach Blake Talley. “Hitting wise we were finally getting the bats going. We transition from wood to aluminum a lot, and I think we are transitioning to aluminum bats again.”
Earlier Sunday, Viper defeated Foutch (Mich.), 11-1, after falling to ITP Lightning (Ga.), 7-4, on Saturday. The win over Clarksville puts VBA runner-up in Pool D.
“I think going into bracket play we have some pitching left; we are 2-1 so we are not going to be a high seed, but we will be up there so I am excited. I’m glad the boys are coming together and we are not allowing too many free bases,” Talley said.
Viper Baseball Academy got its scoring started in the second inning on a two-RBI double by Chance Griner that brought in Jarett Mason and Ephram Milne to give them a 2-0 lead.
The big inning for VBA was the third, scoring five runs. The inning started on a leadoff walk taken by Stran Sawyer, then a single by Brady Merriweather and a single by Andy Locker. This brought up Alex Wade with the bases loaded and nobody out. He hit a two-RBI double to right to give them a 4-0 lead. Wade later scored on a RBI single to right by Connor Ford, who scored on a Landon Baeder RBI single to right.
“I was looking for a fastball that the coaches told me to look for. I saw one well and I hit it well,” Wade said. “I think driving in the three runs for the game helped us win, because we won by quite a bit, and it got the team excited.”
Clarksville answered back in the top of the fourth with a run of its own. Charlie Davis hit a single up the middle and advanced to third on two wild pitches, giving Brody Lanham the opportunity to drive him in as he hit a double to left center to close the gap, 7-1. The final run of the game came in the top of the seventh. It started by an infield single to second by Brody Lanham, and then Lanham moved to third on two wild pitches and was brought in on a RBI double down the left field line by Eli Burchett for a final score of 7-2.
Merriweather went 3-for-3 at the dish with a double, two singles and run scored to lead VBA.
“I was trying to stay loaded on my backside and make sure I commanded the baseball well,” Merriweather said. “I was just sitting on a fastball and trying to hit it and make contact on it and hit the ball hard.”
Bracket play begins Monday morning at 8 a.m. CT. The 14U Gold Bracket championship game is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. at Jack Warren Park.