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Knights face Prattville Christian in semifinals


Kyle Andrews will pitch if Tuscaloosa Academy’s best-of-three series against Prattville Christian goes to a third game. (Photo by Staff photo | Michelle Lepianka Carter )


TUSCALOOSA | When the Tuscaloosa Academy baseball team split a doubleheader last week, losing the second game by one run in the bottom of the seventh inning, coach Patrick Jones talked about redemption. The Knights redeemed themselves in a showdown game, eliminated Monroe Academy with a 9-4 victory and advanced to the AISA Class AAA semifinals.

Jones has been with Tuscaloosa Academy for five seasons, four as an assistant coach. He said Tuesday was his first practice with the Knights in May.

"It means a lot to us," Jones said. "It’s been quite a few years since we made it out of the first round. The guys are excited. They’re looking forward to this opportunity. I almost have to keep from being overexcited about tomorrow."

Jones said his team swept Prattville Christian in a doubleheader earlier in the season, but that doesn’t mean much now.

"Our team would be the first one to tell you looks can be deceiving as far as the way you look toward the beginning of the season," Jones said. "We started off stubbing our toe a little bit. Here for the last four or five weeks or so we’ve actually gotten things together and played a lot better baseball. If someone played us in the beginning of the season they’d probably think a little differently of our team than what we have right now.

"They beat a quality opponent (Lee-Scott Academy) in the first round. We’re looking for a dogfight, and we’re going to have to play our best baseball to get to the finals."

Jones expects to the use the same pitching rotation of sophomore right-hander Robey Smalley (6-1) and senior left-hander Jon Boyd (6-5) today and junior right-hander Kyle Andrews (5-2) if needed for a third game.

Jones said Boyd has a .479 batting average. Clay Thomas is hitting .395 with a team-high three home runs. William Heath is hitting .378. Andrews is the RBI leader with 30. Parker Farley leads with 17 steals.

In last week’s deciding game, Monroe Academy led 3-0. Farley, the No. 9 hitter, got on base and ignited a five-run third inning.

"He got on base, and it just kind of sparked everything," Jones said. "It’s been the story all year long. It can happen from any point in the lineup at any time in the game, and that’s very good for us. We don’t have to count on one or two guys to get things done. Everybody knows in the game of baseball you’re not going to have one or two guys be hot all year long. Having that depth has been key for us down the stretch."

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.