WARNER ROBINS — Held to four hits by a pair of Alabama pitchers, Warner Robins made good use of nine walks and a hit batsman, squeaking past Alabama 5-4 on Friday in the Little League Softball Southeastern Region Tournament.
“That gets your (blood pressure) up a little bit,” Warner Robins manager Roger Stella said a few minutes after his club moved to 2-0 in pool play.
Warner Robins has already clinched a spot in the semifinals, and can win the pool with a win over North Carolina at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
On Friday, four of Georgia’s five runs resulted from batters who had been walked or hit by a pitch. Warner Robins scored what proved to be the winning run in the top of the fourth inning when Ashley Killebrew walked with the bases loaded, scoring Chelsea Whaley.
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Warner Robins starting pitcher Avery Lamb re-entered the circle after Alabama put the tying run at second with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. Lamb escaped that jam, then retired the side in order in the sixth to pick up a save. Because she pitched more than two innings she will not be available to pitch Saturday against North Carolina.
“It makes the decision easier for (Saturday),” Stella joked. “When you’ve got a lead like that, you feel like you’ve got to go ahead and close it out.”
Alabama rebounded from a tough outing Thursday against North Carolina. In that game, Alabama hitters struck out 15 times against Carolina ace Kaitlyn Perry. On Friday, Alabama and Warner Robins changed leads four times as the teams traded two-run innings.
“We’re a team that has to put the ball in play and make you make plays,” Alabama manager Heath Corbett said. “We did that better (Friday).”
Alabama erased deficits of 1-0 and 3-2 with two runs in its half of the first and third innings. Three of the runs resulted from Warner Robins errors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Alabama didn’t earn them. Alabama runners were more aggressive on the base paths throughout the game.
“They had us on our heels a bit,” Stella said.
Alabama’s Kelby Hall accounted for two of the team’s three stolen bases. She had three singles in three at-bats and scored two runs.
In the bottom of the third, Hall reached base on a bloop single with two outs. She promptly stole second then came all the way around to score the tying run when Warner Robins pitcher Hayley Tierce struggled to field Whitley Pope’s grounder.
Pope later scored the lead run on a wild pitch as Alabama took a 4-3 lead after three innings. But on that sequence, Warner Robins caught Josie Kittrell trying to score all the way from second on the same wild pitch.
Later, Alabama had two more runners thrown out trying to take extra bases.
“We are an aggressive team,” Corbett said. “That’s what we do. You live by the sword you die by it. It bit us at the end, but that’s what we have to do. That’s our style.”
Two-out rallies were the order of the day. Seven of the game’s nine runs crossed the plate after two were out.
Whaley delivered a ringing, two-run double into the left-center field gap that scored two runs with two out in the third. At the time, the blow gave Warner Robins a 3-2 lead.
Warner Robins opened the game with a run in the top of the first. Melissa Cox drove home Sierra Stella with a ground out.
WARNER ROBINS 5, ALABAMA 4
Warner Robins 120-200-5-4-2
WP: Hayley Tierce. LP: Taylor Corbett. S: Avery Lamb.
2B: WR — Chelsea Whaley