E.A. Sports Today

Whitten, Hayes throw gems at Glencoe

Piedmont senior pitches complete game, fans 19 as Bulldogs win in 10

Piedmont's Peyton Whitten deals against Glencoe Saturday; he struck out 19 in a 10-inning complete-game victory. Below, Taylor Hayes threw a one-hitter in the nightcap. On the cover, the Bulldogs celebrate Easton Kirk's (9) walk-off single in the 10th. (Photos by Harley Lamey)

Piedmont’s Peyton Whitten deals against Glencoe Saturday; he struck out 19 in a 10-inning complete-game victory. Below, Taylor Hayes threw a one-hitter in the nightcap. On the cover, the Bulldogs celebrate Easton Kirk’s (9) walk-off single in the 10th. (Photos by Harley Lamey)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Peyton Whitten pitched the game of his life in what could have been the final start of his high school career had things not gone so well.

And Taylor Hayes followed him in the nightcap.

Whitten struck out a career-high 19 batters and allowed six hits and one unearned run as Piedmont beat Glencoe 2-1 in 10 innings in the opening game of their Class 3A playoff series at Jacksonville State Saturday.

Hayes came right behind him and pitched a one-hitter in an 8-1 win that completed the sweep. The Bulldogs will host Westbrook Christian Friday in Round 2.

This year’s senior class, recognized in a short ceremony after the doubleheader, still has not lost a playoff series to a public school since they became freshmen.

“I’m not trying to be cocky or anything, but (the Bulldogs’ pitching staff) could be the best around here, close to the best in 3A maybe,” Hayes said. “If we have our stuff and we throw strikes — we did it last year, too — we’re pretty good, I think.”

Whitten struck out at least one batter in every inning and at least two in eight innings, including each of the first four when he fanned nine of the first 13 batters he faced. He walked only one. He threw 143 pitches — 105 for strikes.

“I felt pretty good,” he said. “I knew this could be my last game so I gave it all I had.

“I didn’t want to let my team down this early in the playoffs. I want to try to make a deep run, win the state this year. I know we have an opportunity to, so I didn’t want to let my team down. And I know the other seniors would’ve been disappointed, too.”

Whitten might have felt good as he was dealing, but he was far from feeling good before the game.

A diabetic who wears an insulin pump during games, Whitten said his sugar was “messing up” before the game and he couldn’t see. His parents brought him a new meter, which took some time to kick in, but he eventually got it balanced and was able to pitch.

“He went out there and, man, just pitched like a warrior,” Bulldogs coach James Blanchard said. “I wasn’t amazed. I’ve been seeing that kid do that ever since he came here (from White Plains) as a junior. He’s one of the best pitchers in the state of Alabama. He’s (Division I college) material.”

State rules prohibit a pitcher from throwing more than 10 innings in a game, so Whitten was done if the Bulldogs didn’t score in the home tenth. They came to his rescue.

Darnell Jackson and Bayley Blanchard led off with singles. They were sacrificed over by Tyler Lusk and Whitten was walked intentionally to load the bases. Easton Kirk then hit the first pitch he saw into right field to win the game.

“That’s why I really encouraged our guys, our batters, to get behind (Whitten),” Blanchard said of the 10-inning rule. “He pitched the game of his life. To lose something like this would be heartbreaking for me.”

Kirk also drove in the Bulldogs’ first run in the third inning with a sacrifice fly. The Yellow Jackets tied it in the seventh when Lusk’s throw to the plate on Pace Ozmint’s grounder went awry.

Kirk wielded the big stick in the nightcap, too, poking a bases-loaded triple into right field that highlighted a six-run sixth inning that broke open the game.

Hayes watched what Whitten had done in the opener and was equally as stingy. The only hit he allowed was a sawed-off single by Jeff Ford in the fifth. He allowed only two base runners in the first four innings. The run he allowed was unearned.

“I didn’t pitch near as good as him,” Hayes said. “I threw a one-hitter, but I walked probably four or five batters. Whit walked one and struck out 19 — that’s amazing — in 10 innings, so I’m just real proud of him. On senior night, first round of the playoffs, his senior year, just come out and battle.”

Piedmont 2, Glencoe 1 (10 innings)

Glencoe 000 000 100 0 — 1 6 1
Piedmont 001 000 000 1 — 2 9 1

Dalton Roberts, JEFF FORD (10) and Will Brown; PEYTON WHITTEN and Derick Baer. WP: Whitten. LP: Ford.

Piedmont 8, Glencoe 1

Piedmont 010 016 0 — 8 11 0
Glencoe 100 000 0 — 1 2 3

TAYLOR HAYES and Derick Baer; PACE OZMINT, Hunter Nunnally (5), Jeff Ford (7) and Will Brown. 2B: Cale McCord (P). 3B: Taylor Hayes, Easton Kirk. WP: Hayes. LP: Ozmint.


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