SUMRALL – Sumrall and West Marion battled on the pitcher’s mound in the Adidas tournament on Thursday night, which saw the Bobcats come out on top 2-1.
West Marion’s Jayden Duncan and Sumrall’s Levi Odom went toe to toe on the rubber as the duo combined for 18 strikeouts and allowed three hits.
“I knew it was going to be that whenever I scheduled West Marion,” Sumrall coach Andy Davis said. “I knew they had the Duncan kid. Man, hats off to him. He shut our offense down. Early this season, we have been capitalizing off walks and hit by pitches. He didn’t give us that tonight. We had to come up with one big hit, and of course, that was the difference in the ball game. We faced some really good pitchers this year. He is one of the top ones we have faced.”
Duncan mowed down Sumrall’s lineup as he racked up six strikeouts in the first three innings. According to Odom, who went 0-for-3 against Duncan, Duncan’s breaking ball was a tough pitch and pressed him on the mound to answer the West Marion pitcher.
“I’ve seen Duncan a few times,” Odom said. “I know he has a really good arm. He has a really good breaker. You just have to go in and fill (the strike zone) up. You have to get a good feel for that breaking ball. If you don’t have the breaking ball, it’s going to be a tough night.
“My changeup wasn’t there tonight, but the slider was the big pitch I relied on heavily, but my fastball was there. The two-seam was running a little bit, but I felt pretty good.”
In the fourth inning, Duncan’s only blemish of the night occurred. He gave up a leadoff walk to Marshall Phillips, and then Odom reached base on an error. Ethan Aultman came up with the big swing of the night as he delivered a two-run triple with two outs to give Sumrall (7-0) a 2-0 lead.
“He had two strikes,” Davis said. “He’s a kid that’s been battling for the catching position. We had been working going opposite. Honestly, that’s the furthest ball I’ve seen him hit. I had the stop sign up. He went over and came to third, that wasn’t a big deal, but he’s an awesome kid. That’s a big-time hit for him.”
Despite the triple, Duncan still struck out the side as he totaled 13 strikeouts in the game.
In the sixth inning, Odom fell into his only real trouble of the night. An error allowed West Marion (4-1) to get on the board with a one-out RBI single from Duncan to narrow the lead 2-1. That’s when Davis made a call to the pen and brought Kros Sivley to the mound.
“We had that runner get on when we made that error,” Odom said. “I left a slider over the plate to Duncan a little bit, and he turned on it. After that, I saw Coach Davis come out, and I’m pretty sure I knew what he was thinking.
“I am 100% confident giving that ball to Kros Sivley; 100% every time. I was cramping a little bit there in the fourth and fifth innings so I felt good fiving the ball to Kros.”
Sivley made quick work to finish the game as he used just 13 pitches to seal the win. As he stepped on the mound, Sivley picked off the runner at first base, who was caught in a run down. He then recorded a strikeout to end the inning.
“I’m just trying to pump strikes and keep the lead 2-1 and just get out of the jam at first base,” Sivley said. “Every pitch was a fastball. I just stuck with it because I was throwing good strikes. I stuck to the game plan.”
Heading back into the seventh, Sivley hit a batter to open the inning, but again he picked the runner off at first base. He finished the game by inducing a ground out and recording one more strikeout.
“The first (pick off), Coach Davis told me that we will probably pick right here,” Sivley said. “The second one, they gave me pick, and I just tried to do my best on it.”
Davis believes that the win was a critical confidence builder as the Bobcats defeated one of the favorites to win the 3A state championship.
“I knew they were going to be tough,” Davis said. “Obviously, this our tournament, and we do the pools and things like that. I was slapping myself because I knew they were going to be good, but I knew it was going to be a good test. One hit is a difference in the ball game. They went toe to toe with us, and they weren’t scared.”