E.A. Sports Today

Prep baseball playoff roundup

[corner-ad id=1]It’s a little of everything; Piedmont sweeps, Alexandria splits, Donoho swept

By East Alabama Sports Today

RAINBOW CITY – Everyone knows the type of pitching Piedmont has produced this season, but when the Bulldogs get the hitting to go with it they can be virtually impossible to beat.

The Bulldogs turned up the offense Friday night in their second-round Class 3A playoff series with Westbrook Christian and swept the Warriors 13-1 and 9-3. They’ll host Winfield (27-12) in the third round next weekend.

Piedmont (21-8) pounded 16 hits in the first game and 27 in the twinbill. Derick Baer parlayed an early-week change in his stance into four hits and five RBIs in the opener. In the nightcap, Peyton Whitten, Taylor Hayes and Baer had two hits apiece and Rye Atkins drove in three runs.

Of course, all that offense made their typically strong pitching look even more unhittable. Whitten and Tyler Lusk combined on a five-hitter in the opener and Hayes gave up two hits and struck out 10 in the nightcap. Whitten, who struck out 19 in 10 brilliant innings in the Bulldogs’ playoff opener last week, gave up four hits and struck out eight in six innings Friday.

“This is probably the most solid team effort we’ve had all year, I mean from everybody,” Piedmont coach James Blanchard said. “It was so complete I told the team if you’re mom and daddy ask you what Coach Blanchard said after the game, tell them I was proud of each and every one of you.”

It wasn’t just Baer who hit in the opener. Whitten and Cale McCord had three hits each, while Bayley Blanchard and Lusk each had two. Every hitter who batted at least twice in the doubleheader got a hit. The top three hitters in the lineup were a combined 11-for-23, while the bottom three were 8-for-18.

“When you’ve got 1 through 9 hitting the baseball like we did tonight, that’s pretty good,” Blanchard said. “We work on it a lot. I love to hit, I have ever since we played 8-year-old travel ball.

“We used to flip the coin with the umpires to decide who would hit first and we’d win the toss and I’d say ‘we’ll hit.’ They’d say, but you won the toss, and I’d say we’ll hit.”

Piedmont 13, Westbrook Christian 1

Piedmont 401 013 4 — 13 16 2
Westbrook 000 000 1 — 1 5 1

PEYTON WHITTEN, Tyler Lusk (7) and Derick Baer, Bayley Blanchard (7); TANNER KENNEDY, Dustin Padgett (7), Tristan Cazenvae (7) and Kyle Leonard. 2B: Derick Baer (P), Troy Bearden (WC). WP: Whitten. LP: Kennedy.

Piedmont 9, Westbrook Christian 3

Westbrook 000 030 0 — 3 2 4
Piedmont 042 012 x — 9 11 1

TYLER SELF, Walker Ellison (6) and Kyle Leonard; TAYLOR HAYES and Derick Baer. 2B: Garrett Kennedy (WC), Ethan Campbell (WC), Rye Atkins (P), Easton Kirk (P). WP: Hayes. LP: Self.

Decatur Heritage 10-11, Donoho 0-0

DECATUR – When Donoho coach Steve Gendron saw what Decatur Heritage had done in its opening playoff series, he knew the Falcons were about to face a tall order.

The Falcons, who had never played in the second round of the playoffs before, managed nine singles in the doubleheader – four if you looked at the Eagles’ scorebook – and never got a runner to second base. The Eagles (14-10) have yet to allow a run in the playoffs, having shutout both the Falcons and JCA.

“They’ve got two pretty good arms,” Gendron said. “From the people I’d spoken with, they had two pitchers who threw in the upper 70s and maybe hit 81 every once in a while with good fastball command and a breaking ball they could throw for a strike.

“What we worked on all week is be ready to hit fastballs on fastball counts and I threw BP and threw harder than I normally would. It didn’t work. If I could do it all over again I would prepare the exact same way. They were just two good pitchers.”

Eagles pitchers Clay Shaw and Grayson Wakefield didn’t allow a hit in last week’s doubleheader, but Donoho’s Trey Brown finally solved them, getting a single up the middle leading off the first game.

Without much offense, the Falcons couldn’t afford any lapse in defense or fall behind. They had both. They trailed 5-0 in the second inning of the opener and 6-0 in the first inning of the nightcap.

“It’s a learning experience for my young guys to see what kind of arms we’re going to see come the second round of playoff and I feel like it lit some fire in some of my younger guys to take the off season a lot more seriously than they did in the past,” Gendron said. “It’s tough to swallow getting pounded two games, but I’m hoping my guys use it as a learning tool and a weapon to fuel their offseason.”

Alexandria 7-4, Mortimer Jordan 8-0

KIMBERLY – Justin Whitley pitched a complete-game four-hitter in the nightcap to salvage the Valley Cubs a split.

Mortimer Jordan won the first game in 12 innings when it scored the winning run on a two-out infield error.

The teams are scheduled to play the deciding game here Saturday at 3 p.m.

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