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Playoff-bound Worth baseball clinches Region 1-AAA title with rout of Monroe

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

SYLVESTER -- It's already been a historic year at Worth County with the centennial celebration of Pope Field.

The Rams, however, have their sights set on making more baseball history before the season is over. Worth clinched its second region title in school history Monday with a 17-2 win over Monroe in four innings. The last time the school won a playoff series? Well, that one might take some research.

"That '59 team...," Rams head coach Will Smith started before his memory ran dry.

In other words, it's been awhile.

Worth will get its chance May 7 when it will host the first round of the GHSA Class AAA state playoffs against the No. 4 seed from Region 4-AAA, likely either Rutland or Woodland.

"Nobody picked us," Rams senior Bryant Reddell said. "Nobody thought we'd be here at the end of the year. It's just incredible to pull out the region championship."

The last time Worth won the title was four years ago in 2006. There was no trophy presentation that day on the road and the Rams would go on to lose in the first round of the state playoffs.

But on Monday, Rams players passed around a region championship trophy and celebrated on the field with pictures. This time, things would be different, they vowed.

"We hadn't been to the second round in a long time," said Rams ace Allen Fender, who picked up the win Monday. "I'm ready for it."

Worth

(13-11, 10-2 Region 1-AAA) jumped on Monroe for eight runs in the first inning and cruised from there. Tyler Hembree led the way with three RBI, while Will Peacock finished 2-for-2 with two RBI. Worth drew 13 walks on the day and patiently played station-to-station baseball against a disappointed Tornadoes team that had started the season off so well -- 5-0, to be exact -- only to fade in region play.

"We knew it was going to be tough," said Monroe coach Cecil Williams, whose team finishes up the season Wednesday at Cairo. "We're just trying to play for a little respect and a little pride."

Monroe managed just two hits off Fender, who has only lost one game in region play, and scored its runs on Bradley Dawson's two-run single in the first. Fender, meanwhile, struck out seven.

Worth players bombarded Hembree following his groundout in the fourth inning that drove in the run that brought in the 17th Rams run, ending the game by the 15-run rule before the fifth.

Fender, who will start the playoff opener, stood next to sophomore Corey Odum, Worth's No. 2 pitcher, and admired the region trophy.

"We'll get two more before I leave," Odum joked with his senior teammate.

First things first, though. Worth travels to Dougherty and Perry on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, to finish the regular season. Then they'll try to make history on Pope Field in the playoffs. And maybe after that the Rams will worry about future region titles.