E.A. Sports Today

Eagles win 4A-11 area title

Thurmond tosses shutout, eliminates White Plains; Cleburne County slides into playoffs

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — The last three years Jacksonville found itself in a a do-or-die situation to win the area and came up short. Sid Thurmond and the other seniors who had been through those disappointments before were determined not to let that happen again.

Thurmond pitched a complete-game shutout and freshman Blake Morris ripped a game-breaking two-run double in the fifth as the Golden Eagles defeated White Plains 8-0 for the Class 4A Area 11 title Thursday.

The win sends the Golden Eagles (18-5) into the playoffs as area champs for the first time since 2010; they’ll host Cherokee County in the opening round. The loss left the Wildcats the odd-man-out among three teams for two spots in the area, allowing Cleburne County to claim the area’s second spot.

“We’ve been in this situation every year,” Jacksonville coach David Deerman said. “It came down to us and Alexandria (before). We’ve been in a tough area; I thought it helped us today. I didn’t think our kids pressed very much; I thought they played really loose and relaxed.

“I think being in those big situations before with Alexandria, Hokes Bluff, Centre (Cherokee County) — all those guys who could really play — I think it helped us today.”

The Golden Eagles scored two in the first without benefit of a hit and three in the fifth and sixth. Morris, who drove in the only run in the Eagles’ series-opening win, had his two-run double in the fifth.

Deerman called it “a game-changing” hit. Later in the game, Morris pulled Thurmond aside and wondered aloud why he kept coming up in in clutch situations.

“You just have to come in and get the job done and come through for the team,” Morris said. “I was pretty nervous, but you can’t let it get to you. You just have to try to be consistent and help the team out.”

The Golden Eagles added three more in the sixth. Josh Glass and Colton Clark both singled home runs in the inning. They both had two hits in the game. Glass reached base all four times he came to the plate.

Thurmond allowed only two hits and struck out seven, but he didn’t really have his best stuff and had to pitch out of jams several times to keep White Plains off the board.

The Wildcats put two runners in scoring position with one out in the third and fourth, and a runner at third with one out in the sixth, but Thurmond didn’t let the situation blow up. Only two balls in those situations were hit out of the infield.

“I didn’t start out too good, but Coach Deerman told me to go out there with confidence and have faith and go out there and step up, and that’s what I did,” Thurmond said. “I just told myself I’ve got to get this out for the seniors … They can’t go out like that … We’ve got to win the area … I went out there and stepped up.”

What happened to the Wildcats’ Thursday was the story of their series. They were held scoreless for 14 innings and went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position. They were 0-for-9 against Thurmond.

“Their pitcher is the story,” White Plains coach Chad Hudson said. “We had a lot of chances, but we just couldn’t break through and their pitching had a lot to do with that.

“It’s disappointing. When the areas (alignment) came out we knew there would be a good team at home and unfortunately it’ll be us. You play the game on the field and we got beat on the field.”

Jacksonville 8, White Plains 0

White Plains 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Jacksonville 200 033 x — 8 9 2

CALEB MORROW, Dillon Greenwood (5), Andrew Cronan (6) and Jarrett Webb; SID THURMOND and Collin Casey. 2B: Blake Morris (J), Sid Thurmond (J). WP: Thurmond. LP: Morrow.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login