Despite inconsistent bats, Glenwood is picking up consistent wins

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By Wil Crews
sportscrews@opelikaobserver.com

The Glenwood Gators Varsity Boys baseball team is on an eight game win streak, with the overall record now at 16-3.

“It’s still a work in progress,” said Glenwood coach Tim Fanning. “We’re just trying to get more consistent. But the one good thing is we have found a way to win games.”

Glenwood suffered its last loss on Feb. 26, a 9-2 shellacking at the hands of Troup County, out of LaGrange, Georgia. 

Since then, the Gators have outscored their opponents 70 to 19, thanks in part to stellar pitching and three senior leaders, Trevor Horne, Kody Bence and Colton Dempsey.

“Those three have definitely carried us so far,” Fanning said. “Not only are they seniors, but they are leading us offensively in just about every statistical category. They had a good week. It’s pretty fun to coach them for sure.”

Fanning said he has been pleased by his teams run production during the winning stretch, however, he is looking for more consistency out of his boys at the plate.

“We haven’t been consistent as far as scratching runs and manufacturing runs,” Fanning said. “But we have found a way to have big innings in a lot of our games. It drives a coach crazy sometimes – but we are winning.”

Part of Glenwood’s struggles can be chalked up to the pandemic, as Fanning said anywhere up to eight players were absent from a number of games due to contact tracing from COVID-19. The injury bug has also caught Glenwood recently. Regardless, the Gators have been hitting their stride.

“A lot of our sophomores have stepped up,” Fanning said. “They did a great job.”

The hot run began on Wednesday, March 3, with a narrow 3-2 victory over Lee-Scott in Auburn. Horne, who is undefeated on the season with a sub 0.65 ERA, was the winning pitcher that day, with the save going to Bence. On offense, Garrison McClary went 2-for-3, Colton Dempsey went 1-for-3 with a double and one RBI and Horne rounded out a nice day going 2-for-4 at the plate.

The Gators were next in action over the March 5-7 weekend in the Alabama/Georgia Border Wars Championship, and the bats began to pick up. Glenwood earned 7-0, 7-5 and 6-4 wins over Bethlehem Christian, Berrien County and Evangel, respectively.

Against Bethlehem, Tyler Wadkins was awarded the win after a spectacular performance on the mound. A flurry of hitters led the way for the Gators. Horne was his typical formidable self at the plate, going 1-for-2 with a home run and two RBI. Ty Smith went 2-for-2 with a double and two runs. Bence went 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI. And lastly, Dempsey went 1-for-3 with a double and three RBI.

The Gators then defeated Berrien on the same day behind the arm of Devin Denny, who got the win on the mound. Bence, who on the year is hitting .479 with an on-base percentage of .630, continued slugging like it was nobody’s business, going 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI. Cam Carpenter also went 2-for-3 as he helped Glenwood outlasts their opponent.

Glenwood then defeated Evangel 6-4. Bence threw the entire game from the mound and gave up only four hits, two earned runs and 11 strikeouts. His partner in crime, Horne, went 3-for-4 and missed out on hitting for the cycle by just a home run. Ty Smith followed with a 2-for-4 night, including a double, and Jake Smith went a perfect 2-for-2 on the night.

“It’s always been a great tournament,” Fanning said of Border Wars. “And this is probably the best weather we’ve had for it in three or four years. So, it was definitely a great three days.”

The following game for the Gators was a dominant 16-0 win over area foe Springwood. Ty Smith led the way, going 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI and three runs scored.

Dempsey had a game-high three RBI, finishing 1-for-2 with a double, and Lukas Holman went 1-for-2 with two RBI. Jackson Kennon picked up the win on the mound.

“He’s really stepped up on the mound,” Fanning said of Kennon.

The next day, Glenwood defeated Marion County, 13-2, behind a strong outing from winning pitcher Jacob Page. Dempsey continued to swing the bat well, going 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI. Holman went 1-for-2 with a double and two runs and Wadkins went 1-for-3 with a double and one RBI of his own to round out the offensive notables.

“He’s [Wadkins] another sophomore who deserves some praise,” said Fanning.

This past weekend, Glenwood played and won three games.

“It was not a good defensive weekend, but our hitting covered it up,” Fanning said. “We really need to focus defensively because our guys on the mound have been so good.”

On Friday night, the Gators travelled to Warner Robins, Georgia to play Westfield. Unfortunately, the game was suspended when Glenwood led 2-1 in the third inning when the lights went out due to a fire on a power pole. Before they shut it down, Bence and Horne still let their impact be known with a double and one RBI between them.

Saturday was better for Glenwood, as the only fire that was around was the preverbal ones coming off of the Gators’ bats. In two games, Glenwood put up 23 runs, as it beat Cook County High School 7-5, and Pike County High School 16-5.

Against Cook, Dempsey took home the win after pitching six innings, giving up only two hits, zero earned runs and striking out nine batters. Bence went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, leading the way for the Gator hitters. Not to be outdone, Holman went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI. Bence got the save.

Against Pike, Horne got the win after pitching six innings, giving up only three hits, zero earned runs and striking out eight batters. Dempsey had one of the best games ever recorded – I imagine – going 2-for-4 with two grand slams and a whopping nine RBI.

“Dempsey’s stats are ridiculous,” Fanning said. “He’s hitting .400, he’s got seven doubles, four home runs and 31 RBIs.”

From there, Glenwood cruised to victory. Bence went 3-for-5 with three runs and three RBI; Horne went 2-for-3.

Most recently, Glenwood played Hardaway High School on Monday night and won 8-1. Hunter Deason was the winning pitcher and Denny earned a save in three innings of relief. At the plate, the Gators were led by Carpenter who finished a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs scored. Jake Smith was 3-for-4 with two RBI and Dempsey, productive as usual, went 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI.

The Gators record now sits at 17-3 (undefeated in the area) with a double header at Southern Prep on Tuesday. Results were not available at press time.

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