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Devils sweep county

By By Matthew Nascone
Doing something you haven't done in many years can be a pleasant experience. I know winning the Escambia County Tournament had to feel great for the Escambia County Blue Devils.
I was there with Rasberry and his team when they won it and the excitement was definitely felt on the field. The last time they won the tournament it was at T.R. Miller High School and I know that was a sweet victory.
But I also know this has to be a sweet victory for Rasberry, who is brand new to Escambia County High School.
As the players jumped up and down and performed their many celebrations, it was great to be a part of something so special as that. The tournament may be just a midseason tournament, but to the Blue Devils it signifies bragging rights.
And not only did they win, but they won with no contest. Since I have been covering Atmore sports every time the county tournament rolls around it usually comes down to a tiebreaker of some sorts.
This year the Devils dominated so much by sweeping T.R. Miller, W.S. Neal and Flomaton, that there was no tiebreaker needed to determine a champion.
They destroyed Miller on Friday 11-3 and unloaded on Neal the next morning to the tune of 11-6. In both these games, the Devils had a nine-run inning that fueled the beat down.
I was so happy when I got to witness the heart and drive that pushed Atmore into the champion's thrown against Flomaton Saturday afternoon.
I arrived quite late and caught the dramatic seventh inning heroics of Michael Thomas and Nico Johnson. Johnson got his first hit of the game in the seventh, which happened to drive Thomas in from second base.
Rasberry came over to the dugout from the third base coaches' box and fired his team up with some words of inspiration.
Those words kicked in during the ninth inning of play and the Devils loaded the bases and Justin Rolin played the role of hero, drilling the ball up the middle for the game-winning RBI, scoring Thomas again.
It may seem like Thomas was the key player for Atmore, and was he ever. He only went 8-for-12 with two home runs, nine RBIs and six runs scored on his way to tournament MVP honors. He also contributed a stellar pitching performance through the final four innings of the game against Flomaton to pick up the win on the mound.
I knew Michael Thomas was a stud on the football field, as he won the 2006 Atmore Advance Offensive Player of the Year award for his efforts, but it seems as it he is a stud on the baseball diamond as well.
I hope Thomas and the rest of the Devils continue to play how they did in the county tournament all year because they will be an exciting team to watch.
Winning tournaments is always a good way to keep team morale up, and after a few years of not many wins maybe this tournament win can fuel a winning season for Atmore.
Good luck Devils and way to go.
Matthew Nascone is the sports editor of the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123 or online at sports@atmoreadvance.com.