Although Alexandria was down big and would go on to lose the game 9-1, in the third inning when Johnny Watts ran into the chain-linked fence at full speed in foul territory in left field, worries about the game turned into worries about his safety.
Watts remained on the ground for close to 25 minutes before he was taken to a hospital in Huntsville. The diagnosis was a concussion and broken cheek bone.
“He went out for a second, but I talked to him and he wondered if he caught the ball and stuff like that,” Alexandria coach Andy Shaw said. “We’re going to pray for him and hope he recovers well.”
And in a similar way to how the Valley Cub faithful hope Watts can recover, the Alexandria baseball team recovered Friday night, winning the second game 3-1.
However, the game came with a couple of “huh?” moments before it concluded.
Justice Owens singled to start the bottom of the first and later scored on a hit by Dalton Cobb before Ardmore tied the game 1-1 with three consecutive hits in the third inning.
“We battled them back at the plate,” Shaw said. “They were great the first game and took advantage of some of our mistakes.”
Things remained in pitcher Tanner Wells’ hands until the Cubs got some more runs in the sixth inning.
After Derrik Turner walked and was replaced on the base paths by Dalton Fisher, Colton Bundrum also walked. A single by Owens loaded the bases with one out, and Jake Whiting hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
After the catch, Fisher tagged. The throw sent the catcher up the line, causing a collision and Fisher was called safe at home, giving Alexandria a 2-1 lead.
“He was blocking the running lane without the ball. There was no way to get the runner in without malicious contact,” Shaw said. “They didn’t want to put the runner at a disadvantage so it was the right call.”
Cobb followed up with a single to score Bundrum.
“We’ve got to get as many as we can,” Shaw said. “Anything we can tack on.”
Late in the game the rain grew stronger, eventually having the umpires call a rain delay. However, that delay came in the top of the seventh inning when Ardmore (23-8) had one out and a runner on second base.
As the rain continued to pound the ground for 30 minutes, the umpires called the game with Alexandria (26-12) winning 3-1.
“I think we would have won even if the game didn’t get called,” Wells said. “We’ll just have to come out ready to play tomorrow.”
Game 3 is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, but the umpires will make a decision on an adequate starting time at 10 a.m. When they spoke minutes after calling the game, the umpires seemed determined to get the game in. As for Alexandria, it will be its second Game 3 in as many weeks.
“These kids know what to expect. They’ve been in this situation before,” Shaw said. “Ardmore is going to come out tomorrow and play well. We’ve got to throw the kitchen sink at them if we need to.”
“I just hope we can get this thing in.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.