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Tigers in position to pounce on playoff spot
Alcovy fourth in 4-AAAA at midway point of region schedule

COVINGTON - The Alcovy Tigers baseball team not only finds itself in a position to make it to the Class AAAA playoffs, it has a chance to win Region 4-AAAA.

At the midpoint of region play the Tigers are at 7-2 and are in fourth place, a game behind region leader Ola at 7-1.

With several rain-games left to make up, Dutchtown and Griffin are in second and third place with region records of 6-1 and 4-1.

"It doesn't matter if you're first, second, third or fourth, as long as you're in the state tournament you never know what happens. You have a chance, an opportunity," Alcovy coach Casey Bates said. "There's been a lot of teams in the past that were never ranked and won the first round of the state tournament against teams that are ranked."

Both Ola and Griffin won their first meetings with the Tigers, while Alcovy currently has the tie breaker advantage over Dutchtown with its 3-0 win.

Chasing the front half of the region are Mt. Zion (4-4), North Clayton (3-5) and Jonesboro (2-6). The other two teams, Forest Park and Stockbridge, are still looking for their first region victory.

Bates knows that in order for his team to have a chance to make it to the postseason, it has to continue to play well and not let up.

"We need to win as many as we possibly can. We're going to play one game at a time. It doesn't matter if we're playing a team that is ranked in the top 10 or a team that hasn't won in the last 12 games," he said. "Our goal is to win one game at a time and see how it all shakes out at the end."

Ola is ranked No. 10 in the Class AAAA Coaches Poll, a position once held by Alcovy before losing to Ola 2-0, while Griffin's Jeremy Holcomb could possibly be one of the best pitchers in the state.

"I told my kids don't let all the hype from other teams get into your mind and don't let all the talk from the other teams get into your mind, just go out there and play your game," Bates said.

"That's a coaches' poll and I really don't know who votes on that. I don't understand how you can vote for someone in the top 10 if you've never seen them."

Of Alcovy's six region wins, two were run-ruled with two others decided by nine runs.

It is those nine-run wins that worries Bates.

"We have a lot of kids hitting the ball really well right now, we just have to do a better job of hitting with runners in scoring position," Bates said.

"I told them we have to learn to put teams away. We can't go out there and sit on a four- or five-run lead, we have to put teams away early. We have to have eye of the tiger mentality."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.