E.A. Sports Today

Donoho gains upper hand

Falcons rally to beat JCA in opening game of area title series; second game Thursday

By East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Donoho rallied from two three-run deficits with six runs in its final three bats, including three in the seventh, to edge Jacksonville Christian 6-5 Monday.

The win gave the Falcons (5-5, 3-0) the upper hand in this showdown for their area title. They play again Thursday at Donoho wit the Thunder (6-6, 2-1) needing to win to force a tiebreaker.

Both teams have clinched a playoff spot.

The Falcons scored their three runs in the seventh on bases-loaded walks to winning pitcher Bret Holmes and Garrett Steed and a sacrifice fly by Hall Billings. Their three other runs scored on wild pitches.

“We put together some at-bats late in the game, with some of our young guys having some really good at-bats,” Donoho coach Steve Gendron said.

Holmes, pitching for the first time in three weeks, struck out the first five batters he faced and had 11 in the game. JCA starter Reed Murphy struck out five of the first nine batters he faced and threw four innings of three-hit shutout ball, then had trouble throwing strikes when the rain picked up its intensity.

“Bret is a very competitive player and you could sense that today just watching him on the mound,” Gendron said. “He is really good when he has up tempo on the mound and any time he is working down in the zone, as he did a good bit today.

“He was upset he was not there for our area game on Saturday and he knew there was a lot riding on this game tonight. I feel like he pitched a great game, he just didn’t have much support behind him.”

Catcher Jesse McWilliams had two of Donoho’s four hits. Melvin Fagan, Murphy, Jonah Parker and Lucas Giles each had two hits for JCA.

The Thunder put together four straight hits in the third inning after Holmes, a left-hander, took a hot shot off his right thigh off the bat of Jayden Mitchell. Walker Messer singled home Mitchell and Parker singled home Fagan later in the inning.

They stretched the lead to 3-0 in the fourth and then traded runs with the Falcons in the fifth.

“I just don’t think we handled the rain well,” JCA coach Tommy Miller said.

JCA started three seventh-graders in the game and it’s only going to get younger. Earlier in the day the Thunder learned lone senior Kris Armprester, their regular centerfielder and five-hole hitter, would be lost for the remainder of the season with an abdominal injury.

“One thing that is encouraging a little bit, those 11 guys we have, there’s one junior and the rest are 10th (grade) and below,” Miller said. “We have gotten so much better from when we first walked out here — in a lot of ways.”

On the cover: Donoho catcher Jesse McWilliams (6) looks for a signal after tagging out JCA’s Reed Murphy at the plate in the fifth inning.

Donoho 6, Jacksonville Christian 5

Donoho 000 012 3 — 6 4 3
JCA 002 110 1 — 5 12 3

BRET HOLMES and Jesse McWilliams; REED MURPHY, Jayden Mitchell (7) and Walker Messer. 2B: Jesse McWilliams (D). WP: Holmes. LP: Murphy.

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