But it’s not necessary.
Fueled by that fact and its success in elimination games in previous playoffs runs, Alexandria came back to down Oneonta 11-3 in Game 2 after dropping the series opener 7-2 Friday afternoon at home.
“I felt good about our chances,” said Alexandria coach Andy Shaw of his team’s prospects after Game 1. “This team don’t quit. We were relaxed over here. It’s nothing we haven’t seen so far this year.”
The decisive Game 3 between the Valley Cubs (22-16) and the Redskins (22-6) is set for today at 5 p.m. The winner will face Guntersville or Central Florence, which split a doubleheader Friday, in next week’s state semifinals.
Senior Ty Whaley got the win for Alexandria in Game 2.
The skillful right-hander earned the complete-game victory while giving up five hits, two runs, one earned, no walks and no strikeouts.
Sure, he would’ve liked to have been pitching for the sweep and not to keep his team’s season alive. But he wasn’t uncomfortable with his back up against the wall and his team’s fortunes on his shoulders.
Throughout his career, the four-year letterman has been there and done that.
As a sophomore, the Valley Cubs fell 18-3 to Deshler in Game 1 of the state semifinals and went on to win the series to reach the state championship series in Montgomery.
“It doesn’t affect us at all, losing Game 1 because you still gotta win two to go on” Whaley said.
Alexandria came out with its bats blazing in Game 2.
One thing that did affect Whaley was the pressure of a perfect game and he wasn’t ashamed to admit it. He retired the first eight batters he faced. Then, he got Oneonta’s Hunter Guthrie to ground out on a 3-2 pitch to carry the perfect game into the fourth inning.
Against the first batter he faced in the fourth, Whaley fielded a bunt down the first baseline but misfired on an attempt to throw the runner out to break up the perfect game.
“Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah,” Whaley said smiling, when asked if he knew he had a perfect game going.
“People say that they’re not aware of it and they don’t think about it and stuff. That’s just the biggest lie. Man, it was all over my mind.”
The Redskins broke their scoreless drought on an RBI single from Chase Bryant to make the score 6-1. They looked to make an attempt at a comeback with runners on first and third and one out.
However, Whaley got Dawson Harvey to ground into a double play to get out of the inning.
“I think that was the key,” Oneonta coach Phil Phillips said. “If we can get hit here or there to make it 6-3, then you’ve got a shot. They grabbed the momentum and they didn’t really let us have it back.”
The Valley Cubs took to the plate first, playing as the visiting team, and got a pair of runs on an RBI double from Jake Whiting and an RBI single from Justin Bowen in the first inning. They added two more in the second on an error and a fielder’s choice. Will Parker knocked in two runs on a double up the middle in the third to put the Valley Cubs up six runs to none.
Justice Owens went 2-for-3 as did Ethan Curvin. Bowen was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and Bowen was 2-for-2 while knocking in a pair of runs. Johnny Watts and Matt Nichols also doubled for the Valley Cubs in Game 2.
Oneonta’s Taylor Oden and Walker Musso homered to help lift Oneonta to a Game 1 victory while Bowen was charged with the loss.
Bowen had a pair of hits and Logan Doss had a single and a double in a losing effort for the Valley Cubs.
Shaw said he’ll start Doss, Curvin or Tanner Wells today. Phillips said he’ll likely go with ninth-grader Carter Sims.
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575.