By Nathaniel Frazier
OZARK—Very early in this contest, it was no longer a question of who would win. The only question was by how much.
The Chattahoochee Valley Pirates scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning and from there it was over. The Wallace-Hanceville Lions ran out pitcher after pitcher after pitcher, but none of them could shut down the Pirate bats.
When it was finally over, the Pirates defeated the Lions 15-2. It was the second consecutive ACCC baseball title for the Pirates.
For Coach Adam Thomas, who waited 15 years to get his first title, this one means just as much.
"It's not about me, it's about them," Thomas said pointing to his players. "Just look at all of those smiles. I am so proud of them. We had a plethora of injuries this year and to get to where we are now is amazing. The guy that just won the state championship for us started out this year as one of our top relievers. Now he's our ace."
That ace is Chase Burks, who tossed a complete game. He was also extremely happy.
"I've never won any type of championship except maybe when I was little," Burks said. "This is the most fun I've ever had playing baseball. My change-up and my fastball were both working today and I was able to move the ball inside and outside."
As for how the Pirates were able to repeat, Thomas said "I don't think I had a different approach, just a different perspective this year. We had given all of the motivational speeches like 'this game is more important than any other,' or 'this is the biggest game of the year.' But in the end, we just told our guys to go out and play. I felt like we were one of the best teams coming into this tournament. If we weren't the best, I certainly felt like we were one of the top three. So it was just a question of whether or not we could win it again."
The Pirates were able to score in seven of their eight at-bats. After the five-run first inning, the Pirates tacked on four more in the third to put the game away. They added a single run in the fourth, two in the fifth, two in the seventh, and one in the eighth. CVCC had a total of 17 hits.
The man responsible for much of the offensive success of the Pirates is hitting coach Dash O'Neill. He's been with the Pirate program for 11 years.
"This means everything to me," O'Neill said. "I'm really proud of our guys and their hard work. It shows that it paid off. We've had a good plan and good players and the guys have really stepped up."
The Lions weren't able to get on the scoreboard until the eighth inning when they scored two runs, and then another in ninth. The game didn't end early because the championship game is required to go nine innings.
With the win, the Pirates advance to the NJCAA Tournament in Grand Junction, CO. Thomas says he's learned from his experience last year.
"We will prepare differently," he said. "The air is thinner and the ball travels further. Last year we went out there with the approach of hitting the ball on the ground. This year, I'll be cranking up the pitching machine so the guys can practice hitting long fly balls."
Chattahoochee Valley - 2015 ACCC Baseball Champions
Wallace-Hanceville - 2015 ACCC Baseball Runner-up
CVCC Head Coach Adam Thomas
Wallace-Hanceville Head Coach Randy Putnam
2015 All-Tournament Team
Darius Baldwin—LB Wallace (not pictured)
Dalton Becker and Cory Wheaton—Faulkner State (not pictured)
Stephen Dobbs, Landon Hughes, Turner Vincent—Wallace-Hanceville
Chase Burks, Jake Mazier, Kendall Ford, Ryan Hagan—Chattahoochee Valley
MVP, Tyler Lynn—Chattahoochee Valley