Hodges lifts Bulldogs to win

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 26, 2007

BUDE – In what was a Saturday afternoon feature of two baseballteams heading in opposite directions. The Brookhaven Panthers hadthe Franklin County Bulldogs right where they wanted them, untilDane Hodges saved the Bulldogs day with a clutch game winning RBIsingle that gave Franklin High a dramatic 8-7 victory, that broke a5-year losing streak to the Panthers.

The win, Franklin County’s ninth in a row is their longest since1998. For the Panthers (12-8) it was their six straight loss of theseason.

“We’re struggling a bit right now,” said Brookhaven coach RandySpring. “We’ve got to battle back. Today we lost to a good ballclub.”

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Franklin County (12-6) jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the fifth,before watching the Panthers comeback and tie them at 6-all in thetop of the seventh. Brookhaven took the lead moments later, off aTaylor Newman sacrifice fly that scored Chris Dixon.

“We got ourselves in a hole early,” said Spring.

Brookhaven standout Paxton King was sent in to close the game inthe bottom of the seventh, only to watch FCHS respond with atwo-run two-out rally.

“We stepped up big when we needed to,” said FC Bulldogs coachJeremy Loy. “Our kids never gave up.”

Blaine Abernathy’s high bouncing single between third base andsecond, allowed FC junior Ben McDowell to score the game tying runfor a 7-7 deadlock.

FC senior Dane Hodges, would knock the game winning run in next,off a single that scored freshmen teammate Colton Laird fromthird.

“Dane’s hit was clutch,” added Loy. “That’s what I need fromsenior 3-hole hitters.”

Bulldog senior Ryan Ratcliff (4-3) picked up the win in reliefof FC starter Blaine Abernathy. Ratcliff pitched

1 and 2/3 innings, striking one out.

King (3-3) absorbed the loss for the Panthers in relief ofsophomore starter Bud Britt.

At the plate, Britt led the Panthers with a double and a singlefor an RBI. Senior catcher Mitch Pappas had two singles. SophomoreNick Helmstetter had a

2-RBI double. Cole Newell also had an RBI double, while Newmanadded an RBI single. Elliott Warren also reached base on asingle.

For the Bulldogs, Ratcliff led all batters with a

4-for-4 performance, with four singles and two stolen bases.Senior catcher Cable McMinn had a double and a single. Junior thirdbaseman John Paul Sullivan added a

2 RBI double. McDowell plated two singles for two RBI. JordanHunt, Colton Laird, Blaine Abernathy, Ryne Tutor, and Dane Hodgesalso hit safely.

“We beat a good Brookhaven team today,” said Loy. “It was a goodgame.”

Franklin County resumes Region 7-3A play Tuesday night atTylertown, while Brookhaven travels to Mendenhall for a Region 6-4Acontest. First pitch for both contests is set for 7:00.