DISTRICT 7-3A BASEBALL TOURNEY: Upperman, DeKalb County To Meet In District Championship Monday Afternoon

By Michael Lindsay


Upperman and DeKalb County are the final two baseball teams standing in District 7-3A following Saturday’s tournament action in Baxter as the Bees won their winners’ bracket game over Stone Memorial in the morning while DeKalb County won back-to-back elimination games over White County and Stone Memorial in the afternoon.

The Bees and Tigers will face off in Monday’s District 7-3A championship and both programs automatically advance to the Region 4-3A tournament semifinals next week.


The Upperman Bees clinched their third consecutive region tournament berth Saturday morning as they defeated Stone Memorial 11-1 behind a complete-game victory by senior pitcher Wyatt Curtis, who struck out 9 batters while surrendering only 3 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings.

“He’s done well the last month of the season,” said Upperman head coach Wes Shanks. “The guys have confidence in him. We feel like we have our best defense behind him and he had a great outing.”

Upperman senior Caden Shanks reached a career milestone in the victory as he became the program’s all-time leader in hits (165) via 2-run home run to right field in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“He’s had to go through the ups and downs and he’s stayed consistent, which is why he’s such a successful ball player,” said coach Shanks.

The Bees opened Saturday’s game with a run in the bottom of the first inning as a Chris Wirsing sacrifice fly scored Justin Fallon.

Neither team scored in the second or third inning as the Bees held their 1-0 advantage entering the fourth. After shutting down the Panthers in the top half, Upperman scored three runs in the bottom of the frame via hits by Caden Shanks and Julian Llano to take a 4-0 lead.

Stone Memorial answered with a run in the top of the fifth inning to cut their deficit to 3-1 before the Bees opened the flood gates in the bottom of the frame by scoring 7 runs including Shanks’ home run to earn an 11-1 mercy-rule victory and clinch their berth in the District 7-3A championship.

“The more quality at-bats you have, the longer the game goes and that pitcher gets tired,” said coach Shanks. “The longer the game went, the more opportunities we got. We had timely hits.”

Saturday’s win secures the third consecutive district championship and region tournament berths for Upperman.

“The guys had a good approach,” said coach Shanks. “This clinched regions. The guys were ready to go and locked in. It’s a big day for Upperman baseball and we’re excited.”

DeKalb County

With their backs against the wall, the DeKalb County Tigers won two elimination games Saturday afternoon to clinch a berth in Monday’s district title game against Upperman and next week’s Region 4-3A tournament.

“I can’t explain how proud I am of these guys,” said DeKalb County head coach Tad Webb. “They’ve fought through adversity through the whole year. We talk every day about God and the way he leads us, and they believed.”

The Tigers opened the afternoon with an 11-3 victory over White County in game one before erasing a 5-run deficit to defeat Stone Memorial 9-8 in game two.

“That’s been our M.O. all year,” said Webb. “We have an inning at some point where we get in a hole, but we never quit and clawed back. All these tight games are going to pay off; as heartbreaking as some of those losses were, we’d do it all over again for this.”

Shortstop Dallas Kirby was a homer away from the cycle as he went 3-4 with 5 RBIs, 2 runs scored, a triple, a double and a single against White County.

The Warriors held a 2-0 lead over the Tigers after 2 and 1/2 innings before DeKalb County posted 4 runs in the bottom of the third, 3 in the fourth and 2 in the fifth and sixth to take the 11-3 victory, setting up their winner-take-all contest with Stone Memorial in the following game.

Westin Wright led the Tigers at the dish against Stone Memorial as he went 2-4 with 3 RBIs, a double and a run scored.

Freshman reliever Luke Johnson earned the victory on the mound as he pitched 4 and 2/3 innings against the Panthers.

“He’s a special young man,” said coach Webb. “I told him we’re going to use him this year. He came in during a tight spot and has a level head. He didn’t let anything rattle him.”

Game two saw Stone Memorial take a 7-2 lead following a 6-run second inning as Bryce Elmore was hit by a pitch with bases loaded followed by a Nick Osmun double, Titus Bisbee single, Kamryn Melton grounder and a Kyle Hinch single to score the runs.

The Tigers settled in and scored two runs each in the tops of the third and fourth innings via hits by Wright, Braxton Cantrell Brayden Carter and Kirby to cut their deficit to 7-6 entering the fifth.

DeKalb County retook the lead in the top of the sixth inning as Wright delivered a two-out single to left field, scoring Andrew Dakas and Carter to give the Tigers an 8-7 advantage.

Tucker Webb tacked on a run in the top of the seventh as a fly ball to left scored Carson Donnell, extending DeKalb County’s lead to 9-7.

Stone Memorial pulled within a run in the bottom of the seventh inning as an Elmore sacrifice fly scored Cade Wilson, but DeKalb County’s Evan Prichard forced back-to-back grounders to seal his team’s 9-8 victory over Stone Memorial and a berth in the district championship and Region 4-3A tournament.

“First off, we’re going to let the guys enjoy this,” said coach Webb. “It’s been a few years since we’ve been out of the district. This group of seniors is a special group; I’ve had them for longer than four years. They’re one year ahead of one of my boys, so they’ve always played with each other. They showed what they’re capable of.”

DeKalb County is scheduled to face Upperman in Baxter on Monday at 5:30 p.m. and game two is set for 7:30 if necessary.