Shelby takes second … again

By AUSTIN PHILLIPS / Staff Writer

MONTGOMERY – The Shelby Academy Raiders’ baseball team has become accustomed to being the bridesmaid, but hardly ever the bride.

Despite winning the Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 1A title in 2005, the Raiders came up short again in the championship game for the third-straight year Wednesday as the Autauga Academy Generals came back to take games two and three of the three-game series, thus sealing the state championship.

After the Raiders took game one Tuesday, 6-5, the Generals rallied back to take the second game, 12-10, and then swept Wednesday’s match-ups with a dominating 12-2 win via the mercy rule in the third game.

“It’s tough,” Shelby head coach Mark Windham said. “This one hits hard.”

The Raiders got behind early in the final game, and could never catch up.

Autauga put one run on the board in the second inning, but a six-run third would be all the run support the Generals would need. The Generals added three more in the fourth and two in the fifth to put the game away, despite a two-run fifth by the Raiders.

The nearly 300-pounder Josh Worrell, who earned the save for the Generals in the game two with just three pitches, got the complete-game victory for Autauga in the final game.

“I would have thought we would have hit him,” Windham said of Worrell. “He shut us down completely and you have to give Autauga credit.”

Shelby’s Paul Bailey picked up the loss.

The loss also brought an end to the senior class’s career at Shelby, a career that included an appearance in the AISA Class 1A state championship game every year.

“We’ve been through a lot,” Windham said of his seniors. “I know there is a lot of hurt on them.”

At the plate for the Raiders (22-5), Chad King and Colton Wingard were each 2-for-3, including an RBI by Wingard.

JoJo Tidmore, Cody Jones, Jeremy Ogles and Parke Rockco each had a hit in the loss.

In the second game of the three-game series, the Raiders were just three outs from being shut out via the mercy rule, but Shelby would not quit.

After falling behind 8-0 through four innings, Autauga posted three more runs in the top half of the fifth inning to take an 11-0 lead.

Chase Rockco got the Raiders going in the bottom half of the fifth as the Raiders scored five runs, and then added another in the sixth inning.

In the final inning, Autauga added one more run to go up 12-6, but Shelby would not go down without a fight.

The Raiders scored four runs during the final at-bat, and had the tying run at the plate when Ogles popped up to second base to send the series into the third and final game.

“We fought back, but the rally just came up short,” Windham said. “I hate it for these kids.”

Offensively for the Raiders, Fulgham was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, Tidmore was 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored and Parke Rockco was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

King, Wingard, Chase Rockco and Ogles also each had a hit in the loss.

Autauga’s Will Dismuke earned the win, while Shelby’s King picked up the loss. Worrell picked up the save for the Generals.

Parke Rockco, Ogles and Tidmore were named to the All-Tournament team