E.A. Sports Today

Dodd strong in opener; North sweeps

[corner-ad id=2]Alexandria right-hander pitches three scoreless innings in opener; Blanchard gets save in nightcap

Alexandria right-hander Cody Dodd throws a pitch to the first batter he faces in the North-South All-Star Game Tuesday.

Alexandria right-hander Cody Dodd throws a pitch to the first batter he faces in the North-South All-Star Game Tuesday.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY — Alexandria’s Cody Dodd threw three innings of one-hit shutout relief for a win and Piedmont’s Bayley Blanchard got the final out in the nightcap for a save as the North swept the AHSAA All-Star baseball doubleheader 6-2, 6-4, at Riverwalk Stadium.

“I told the guys I promise you if you go out here and play regular baseball we’ll win both games and 40 years from now you’ll remember that,” Piedmont and North coach James Blanchard said. “You won’t remember what you did in the game, but you’ll remember that you won two games.”

Dodd and Bayley Blanchard certainly will remember Tuesday night fondly.

Dodd entered the opener in the fourth inning of a 2-2 game. The Alexandria right-hander faced 11 batters and effortlessly retired the last seven in a row. He gave up a two-out single in the fourth after falling behind in the count and struck out three.

“It was just an awesome experience,” Dodd said. “I went out and threw the ball like I usually do, to throw strikes and let the defense work behind me. Everything just worked right.

“That was probably the best I’ve had in a long time. I just threw it great.”

They didn’t keep a pitch count, but James Blanchard couldn’t believe Dodd threw more than 35 pitches – and most of them were in the 85-87 mph range.

Dodd was expecting to throw two innings and “dinked around a little bit,” but was getting through so quickly the North coaches gave him a third. He probably could’ve thrown the seventh as well.

“He was so smooth,” James Blanchard said. “He was in control the whole time he was out there. He could’ve pitched five more innings.”

Bayley Blanchard gave Dodd the lead when he broke the tie with an RBI infield out in the fourth. The North added another run later in the inning and two insurance runs in the fifth. Hokes Bluff’s Chase Beggs tied the game 2-2 with an RBI double in the third.

The nightcap turned out to be a little more stressful.

The North opened a 4-0 lead early and held on. The South cut it to 4-3 in the fifth, but the North scored twice in the seventh. The South scored one in the seventh and had the go-ahead run at the plate with one out.

When it loaded the bases with two outs, Bayley Blanchard was summoned from the dugout for a situation his dad/coach says “he’s meant for” to get the final out. He got ahead of Chris Manley and eventually got a grounder to short that ended the game.

“It was interesting,” Bayley said. “I got him 0-2 and then he hit one that was just barely foul. I really wasn’t nervous at all. I was in the dugout telling them if you need me I’m here. The guys warming me up, they were confident. I just went out there and had fun.

“It was fun getting up there competing. We wanted to win and wanted the North to be the best. It was really fun for me.”

North 5, South 2

West Morgan’s Brianna Thorne and North MVP Alexandria Dunn of Oak Mountain each scored twice as the North extended its record in the series to 12-2-1. North keepers Miranda Schoening of Oxford and Lauren Roussell faced only two shots on goal in the game. The North had 17 shots on goal.

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