By Justin Graves

Athens Post 49 coach Nathan Brownlow believes his team is on the right course, and with the good showing the 49ers had in the Columbia Baseball Tournament over the holiday weekend goes further to solidify that.

Athens won an American Legion tournament in Columbia, Tenn. this weekend, so now Brownlow thinks his team needs to turn their eyes toward the state tournament that will be played at the end of the month.

“Everything is coming together,” Brownlow said. “Our pitching has been really strong, and everyone has been getting on base and driving in runs. This is exactly where we wanted to be when the season started.”

Post 49 – which consists primarily of Calhoun Community College baseball players – has played well in every tournament they have participated in this season, and Athens has seemed to get stronger as the season has went on. Brownlow said that the 49ers are going to use the next few weeks to establish some guys into some other roles in preparation for the state tournament.

“As of right now, we have four very good starting pitchers,” Brownlow said. “All four of our starters are capable of coming in and winning a ball game for us. What we are going to do now is use some of our other pitchers against some of the better teams on our schedule to get them some experience.

“We need to get them into some games against teams with tough lineups so they will be ready to go at state.”

Brownlow doesn’t believe a state championship is unattainable.

He believes that Athens plays well enough in every aspect to be considered a contender.

“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to challenge for the state title,” Brownlow said. “That is still our main goal. We have caught the eyes of a lot of other teams across the state this summer. That could be a good thing or bad thing, because now that they do respect us, they will be gunning for us.”

Despite how strong Post 49 has pitched, Brownlow is really impressed with how Athens has hit the ball and executed in the little things, such as bunting and running bases.

“This is a very happy-go-lucky baseball team,” Brownlow said. “They come out everyday and play baseball, and they have fun doing it. They are a fun team to watch and a fun team to coach.

“All of these guys are college baseball players, so they should be expected to do the little things and work to get better on their own. This is a good team.”

Athens 11 Ponpatoc, Miss. 1

Post 49 got things started early when former Tanner star Jarrod Harrison led off the game with a single, followed by a sacrifice bunt from Jacob Lamar that moved Harrison to second. Darrel Octwell moved Harrison to third when he belted a single into the outfield.

Athens loaded the bases when Beau Brooks drew a walk.

Josh Farris gave Athens a 1-0 lead when he drove in Harrison with a single and ex-West Limestone star Cole Mitchell followed with a triple that gave Post 49 a 4-0 lead.

Andrew Reeves recorded the win on the mound in the championship game. He gave up four hits and struck out three in the complete game win.

Octwell was named the tournament MVP. He hit for a .446 batting average, belted four homers – one in the semifinal and one in the championship – and had 14 RBIs in the tournament.

Athens 6, Bowling Green, Ky. 3

Post 49 jumped out to an early lead against the Kentucky Bearcats in the semifinal and never let up.

Athens got a rally started in the third inning when Lamar hit into a fielder’s choice, but reached on an error. Brooks belted a triple that plated Lamar to give Athens a 1-0 lead.

Farris drove in Brooks to give Post 49 a two run advantage with an RBI single.

Joey Moeller earned the win for Athens by striking out seven in the six-hit complete game.

Athens 6, Bessemer 4

Post 49 fell behind 3-0 in its quarterfinal match-up after Bessemer put together a big three-run rally in the third inning.

Athens battled back in the fourth inning when Octwell led off with a single to start a rally. Athens then had three consecutive doubles from Mitchell, Ryan Wheeler and Taylor Whibdee that put the 49ers up 4-3.

Post 49 added two insurance runs in the fifth.

Bubba Meeks picked up the win for Athens. He gave up six hits and struck out five.

Athens 7, Shelbyville, Tenn. 0

The 49ers started off the single elimination tournament right by shutting out Shelbyville 7-0. This was the fourth time Athens had played Shelbyville this summer.

Buddy Bosheers recorded the win for Athens. He had nine strikeouts in the complete game shutout.

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