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March 7, 2013

CULLMAN COUNTY BASEBALL TOURNAMENT: Waters, Looney lift Warriors to title tilt with 8-1 win over Fairview

WEST POINT — Wesley Waters rarely gets frazzled on the mound, and although the West Point senior was certainly in a position to let a shaky start affect him on Thursday, the Warrior ace rose to the occasion once again.

Waters shrugged off an early run in the first inning, rallying to dominate Fairview's lineup as West Point defeated the Aggies 8-1 to advance to the championship game of the Cullman County Baseball Tournament.

"Wesley pitched a great game for us," coach Trai Meadows said. "He had a little bit of a rough start but was able to settle down a little and work through it. He really had both pitches working for him today."

The young fireballer found himself behind the eight-ball early, allowing his first two runners to reach via a hit by pitch and a single. An error by shortstop Dalton Looney followed, giving Fairview a quick 1-0 lead with runners on the corners and nobody out.

Waters buckled down, however, striking out the Aggies' next two batters before inducing an inning-ending groundout to avoid further damage.

The Warriors tied the game in the bottom of the frame on an opposite-field single from Looney that scored Ryder Jones, who drew a walk earlier in the inning.

An RBI-single from Will Wrenn spearheaded a two-run third inning for West Point, giving it a 3-1 cushion midway through the contest.

That score remained until the bottom of the fifth, when Looney launched a 3-run home run over the left field fence to give his team a commanding 6-1 lead.

"It was a big homer for us," Meadows said. "It really put us ahead and we never looked back. We had just got done talking about us leaving runners on base when he hit it."

The Warriors tacked on two more runs late, which was more than enough for Waters.

Following the first inning, the Wallace State signee went on to strike out the side in the second and third frames before allowing a leadoff infield single in the fourth. The hurler responded to that with two more strikeouts and a groundout to thwart any attempt by Fairview to make it a game.

"It seemed like everything was working for me today," Waters said. "I got more relaxed in the second inning and was really confident in my ability to throw my curveball in any count today. When my team gives me a lead, it becomes a lot easier to pitch."

Waters completed his five-inning day with 12 strikeouts, allowing just two hits and walking one. Jones pitched two innings of relief for West Point, striking out four batters, while allowing a couple of singles.

Looney's two hits and three RBI led his team at the plate, while Will Wrenn collected two hits to go along with a run and a stolen base. Wesley Smith and Waters tallied a hit and a run apiece, and Jordan McKenzie was good for single as well.

The win lifts the Warriors into the championship game on Friday at 6 p.m. They will play either Vinemont or Fairview.

"We just need to stay focused," Waters said. "Keep hitting and pitching strong."

The Aggies' Bryant Powers was the losing pitcher, allowing six runs (four earned) to go along with five strikeouts and three walks in four innings of work.

Luke Bailey, Jake Chandler, Powers and Trent Shoemaker provided Fairview's offense with one hit apiece.

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