Francis Marion ends season with losses, turns focus to 2006

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2005

Baseball action in Perry County heated up over the past week when the Francis Marion Rams took on the West Blocton Tigers, but fell short in their effort. The Tigers posted a 14-9 victory over the Rams, which secured West Blocton the Area Championship.

The loss put the Rams in a must win situation against Aliceville.

If the Rams could hang on to knock the Yellow Jackets, then they would finish the season as the Class 3A Area 6 runners-up and earn a berth into the 3A playoffs.

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A loss, however, would find the Rams turning in their jerseys.

Wednesday afternoon, the Rams were unable to control their fate, falling to Aliceville 23-11. Aliceville advanced to the playoffs and will face Catholic (Montgomery) in the first round. Area champs, West Blocton will host Pike County.

Against West Blocton though, the Tigers’ Brandon McClellan finished 2-for-3 with a double and a pair of runs. Matt Bandy blasted a double and scored a pair of runs and was followed by Cody Marchant in the designated hitter role. Marchant ripped a home run and then scored twice in the win.

“It was a very competitive match-up,” said Terrance Spencer, second-year coach of the Rams. “The game against West Blocton was

by far our best game of the year. We performed great offensively against a great pitcher. We gave up a couple of runs in the top of the seventh just from not blocking ball up at home plate. Those little minor mistakes killed us.”

Aldin Essex and Devon Dunnican both homered for the Rams. Carl Billingsley finished the day 2-for-3.

Jessie Foster earned the victory on the mount with six strikeouts, while Justin Johnson notched the loss for Francis Marion.

Against the Aliceville Yellow Jackets, Quinton Martin and Dunnincan recorded home runs. Martin’s was of the three-run variety.

Lionel Jackson finished the day 4-for-5 with four singles.

“We had the opportunity to control our own destiny and we failed to do so,” said Spencer. “This is my second year here, this is by far the best ball club that Francis Marion has ever had. Great group of kids academically as well as athletically. They are a team of primarily 9th and 10th graders so they are going to get better with game experience.

Dee Manning blasted a grand slam and finished the day 4-for-5 for the Jackets.

On the mound, J.T. Lee notched the win with six strikeouts over six innings of work. Hinkle took the loss for the Rams with three strikeouts over six innings of work.

Despite the season ending loss, Spencer is still proud of his boys.

“As far as pitching I have Edward Hinkle and Justin Johnson coming back and with their athletic ability,” said Spencer. “They should be able to frustrate some batters next season. Then we have Hinkle, Carl Billingsley abd Devon Dunnican coming back to get the bat on the ball. Devon hasn’t played baseball since he was eight and this year he’s hit almost double digits in home run. He’s a pure athlete and can do anything you ask without question.”