Aultman, Dedrick combine for five-hit shutout as Shelton State stays alive

Aultman, Dedrick combine for five-hit shutout as Shelton State stays alive

Shelton State (Ala.) Community College starter Alex Aultman, top, delivers Tuesday during the Buccaneers’ 6-0 victory over Polk State (Fla.) College at the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series. Aultman relied on his slider to pitch six solid innings and reliever Terrance Dedrick pitched the final three innings as Shelton State advanced to play Jefferson (Mo.) College today at 3 p.m.

Polk State pitcher Steven Burnham eyes a loose ball as it gets away at home plate Tuesday as Shelton State’s Austin Kilbourne slides past him to score in the seventh inning of the Eagles’6-0 loss.

Shelton State’s J.C. Wilhite slides into home to score Tuesday as Polk State catcher Erik Hindmon bobbles the ball in the seventh inning of the Buccaneers’ 6-0 victory in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

Alex Aultman figured out real fast Tuesday what was working for him, then turned it loose on Polk State (Fla.) College.

His slider was sliding.

When the Eagles started to figure Aultman out a bit, he handed the ball over to Terrance Dedrick, and the hard-throwing closer took care of the final three innings as Shelton State (Ala.) Community College notched the first shutout of the 2012 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

Aultman and Dedrick combined on a five-hitter in the Buccaneers’ 6-0 win and eliminated the Eagles (46-12) from the tourney.

Aultman rode his slider to 14 consecutive outs after he walked the first batter of the game, and it should have been 15 straight, but a dropped third strike ended the streak in the fifth inning. Soon after, his no-hit bid ended on a bunt single, but he got out of a bases-loaded jam by inducing a pop-up.

“Alex was good from the beginning, and normally during the year it takes him a couple innings to settle in,” Shelton State coach Bobby Sprowl said. “And early in the game he came up to me, because he usually throws splits most of the time, and he said, ‘Coach, my slider’s working pretty good.’ And we just switched to slider and maybe threw five or six splits all game, and he was able to throw for called strikes, and that helped him.”

The mound mastery was a welcome sight after five Buccaneers pitchers combined to walk nine batters in their 13-3 loss Sunday night to Gordon (Ga.) College.

“(Coach Sprowl) told me to keep the ball down, and I knew I had to come out here to just give our team a chance,” said Aultman, who allowed four hits, walked two, hit one and struck out six on 98 pitches. “That’s what I did, and we came out on top.”

After escaping the fifth inning, Aultman had a quieter sixth, striking out two, but Polk State’s first two batters in the seventh hit solid singles off him, and Sprowl didn’t hesitate to go to his bullpen. That meant Dedrick, who in 17 relief appearances entering the World Series posted a 6-0 record, six saves and 44 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings.

“I knew he could get us out of that easy,” Aultman said. “He’s been doing it all year, so I had no problem with it. I wanted to go longer, but it was best for our team that he came in.”

After striking out the No. 9 batter looking, Dedrick induced a fielder’s choice from Polk State’s leading hitter, Conor Szczerba, setting the stage for another big play in the game. The Eagles’ Colt Hankamer laced a ball to right field, but Tanner Smithson, who took over in right field when Dedrick headed to the mound, made a sliding catch to end the threat.

“You know, I think the biggest play of the game was Smithson in right field making the play, the diving play,” Sprowl said. “With two guys on, both of those guys would have scored, and it would have been a 3-2 game at the time. … That sort of changed the momentum back to our favor.”

Dedrick retired the side in the eighth, and after a two-out single in the ninth, he got the final batter to pop out to complete the shutout.

“I’ve been out here a lot. To throw a shutout out here is impressive,” said Sprowl, who has taken four teams to the JUCO World Series in his 21 years at Shelton State. “It makes it even more impressive against a team like that, that are really aggressive and can hurt you on one swing.”

Instead, the Eagles hurt themselves, committing five errors, and the Buccaneers seized on those mistakes. Chief among them, a bunt by Dedrick with runners on first and second in the fifth inning was fielded cleanly by the pitcher, but he threw hard and high over the first baseman, allowing both base runners to score for a 3-0 lead.

“We didn’t play well,” Polk State assistant coach Brad Cook said. “We shot ourselves in the foot.”

Cook coached the team with Collin Martin in place of head coach Al Corbeil, who left Monday night to return home for the birth of his first child, a son.

Sprowl, meanwhile, said Shelton State’s offense mirrored its regular season.

“We don’t have any power,” he said, “so we have to use our speed and line drives in gaps, and maybe every now and then we’ll get one up in the air and hit one, but that’s the way we play.”

Dedrick echoed that thought, saying, “We get runs any way we can, whether it’s bunting, hit and run, hitting. We’ve actually been struggling a little bit at the plate, but we usually try to find a way to get it done, no matter what’s going on.”


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