March 27, 2009
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Lil'' Wayne and Lump proved to be a difficult tandem to contain Thursday night.
It''s a good thing, too, because the Caledonia and West Lowndes High School baseball teams could have played all night.
Better known as Demetrius and Devin Malone, the Panthers played key roles in the bottom of the ninth inning to help West Lowndes earn a 5-4 victory.
Demetrius Malone reached on a fielder''s choice with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single to right field by Devin Malone to help West Lowndes improve to 10-3.
"It is good to beat a bigger school," West Lowndes coach Todd Stanley said. "It is my hometown, and Caledonia has a first-class program. Coach (Sam) Adams does a good job with them. They are always tough. We knew it was going to be a battle. It looked like neither team wanted to win there at the end. Both teams had chances. It was just a good high school game."
Arick Smith worked a walk from Curry Freeman to open the ninth. Adams lifted Freeman in favor of Tyler Pounders, who erased Smith on a fielder''s choice.
Tyquan Lucious flied out to center field for the second out. With Devin Malone up, Demetrius Malone failed to advance on the first pitch in the dirt. The missed opportunity nearly cost the Panthers, but Demetrius capitalized on the next pitch in the dirt that went for a wild pitch to move to second base.
"I saw the ball (on the first pitch in the dirt), but I didn''t see it good at first, so I stayed (at first base). I didn''t want to make a dumb mistake," Demetrius Malone said. "The second time I read it good, got a good jump, and made it to the bag."
Demetrius had a feeling the 90 feet would make a difference, and it did thanks to a timely piece of hitting.
Devin Malone was ahead in the count 2-0 when he used an inside-out swing on an inside pitch to single through the right side of the infield.
The wet turf slowed the ball and allowed right fielder Cory Critcher to charge the ball and to make a good throw home.
Demetrius Malone took a wide turn around third base to avoid the wet turf down the third-base line. He said he saw the ball coming in and knew he would have just enough time to score the winning run standing up. He touched home plate a few seconds ahead of catcher Zach Senneff''s tag.
"I should have slid anyway," said Demetrius Malone, who is nicknamed ''Lil Wayne'' because people call his father Wayne. "I reached my leg out and thank God that I have a long leg."
Devin Malone, who is 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, doesn''t resemble a "Lump." He said he doesn''t know where fans and friends picked up that nickname for him.
Malone credits a lot of work in the batting cage for helping him the get his hands moving quick enough against Pounders to produce.
"I was just looking for a good ball to hit, and there it was," Malone said. "It was inside and I had to get my hands through."
Said Stanley, "He is a senior and he has been around. He is leading the team in average, and I would just assumed have him up there as anybody."
Devin Malone said he thought Demetrius Malone would get to second base sooner. He said he had to put that initial frustration out of his mind and re-focus on his task, which was to get the winning run home.
"I had to get ready for the pitcher because he had good zip on the ball and get a basehit," said Malone, who is leading the team with a batting average better than .500. "I have stayed in the cage all day and hit, hit, hit. I have learned (how inside-out the ball) in the past year. I went to the cage time after time."
Caledonia tied the game at 4 in the sixth after Sy Hunter walked, moved to second on a passed ball, to third on a groundout, and scored on a single by Senneff.
The Confederates had plenty of other chances to win the game in the first seven innings.
In the first inning, Richard Keene (three hits) walked and was thrown out at home when he tried to score on Pounders'' double.
Caledonia had runners at second and third with no outs in the fourth but scored only two runs on sacrifice flies by Tyler Aldridge (two RBIs) and Hunter.
In the fifth, Caledonia couldn''t execute a sacrifice bunt, which erased a runner at third base. Still, the Confederates had runners and second and third with two outs and couldn''t score.
Caledonia also had a runner at third in the seventh and failed to score.
In the ninth, West Lowndes erased a run at home after a groundball with the infield in. Another groundout prevented the Confederates from taking advantage of a bases-loaded situation.
Devin Malone''s double in the second scored Demetrius Malone with the Panthers'' first run.
West Lowndes used doubles by Clark McCollum and Fredrico Moody, three errors, a single by Demetrius Malone, and a single by Ryan Stowers to scorer three runs in the third.
McCollum pitched six-plus innings before giving way to Lucious. He allowed seven hits, walked four, and struck out two.
Matt Gresham started for Caledonia. He lasted four batters into the second and was relieved by Hunter, who pitched three innings.
Freeman pitched well in four-plus innings but took the loss.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.