E.A. Sports Today

Cubs win playoff series

Reaves puts out fire in seventh, Alexandria holds on to beat Moody 8-6, wins playoff series, hosts Mortimer Jordan next

Alexandria pitcher Will Reaves (R) passes assistant coach Zac Welch as he comes off the field after saving the Valley Cubs' 8-6 series-clinching win over Moody. On the cover, Reaves greets the fans as part of the team's post-game victory lap.

Alexandria pitcher Will Reaves (R) passes assistant coach Zac Welch as he comes off the field after saving the Valley Cubs’ 8-6 series-clinching win over Moody. On the cover, Reaves greets the fans as part of the team’s post-game victory lap.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Will Reaves wanted the ball, Andy Shaw gave it to him and now Alexandria is on to the second round of the Class 5A baseball playoffs.

Reaves came on in the seventh inning with the game unraveling, the season on the line and his high school career in the balance Saturday and confidently got the final two outs to preserve the Valley Cubs’ 8-6 win over Moody that clinched their best-of-3 playoff series.

The Valley Cubs, now back to .500 for the season (16-16), will host Mortimer Jordan (25-18) next Friday.

Alexandria entered Saturday’s seventh with an 8-2 lead, but starter Taylor Shaddix and two other relievers couldn’t hold it.

Reaves came into an 8-6 game with bases loaded, one out and the top of the Blue Devils’ order coming to the plate. The senior right-hander struck out lead off man Riley Campbell and Bailey Isbell to end the game and avoid facing John Martin, who killed the Cubs at the plate all weekend, Reaves on Friday and tied the game Saturday with a two-run homer in the third.

“Will’s over there nodding his head at me wanting the ball; that was big right there,” Shaw said. “There at the end he wanted the baseball. I was hesitant to give it him because of (Friday) night, but he said he could go for an inning.

“He was confident, so I was confident. That’s the kind of body language we wanted right there. He finished it off and did a great job.”

There was a lot of strategy that went into making the move to Reaves. Shaw was trying to avoid using ace Cody Dodd, who had thrown over 100 pitches in winning Game 2 Friday night, and admitted he didn’t know what he’d do if the Blue Devils had tied it.

Riley Shaw took a pitch off his elbow in the first inning, so his availability to pitch was uncertain. The remaining options were Jake Woodward, Justin Shaw and Ethan Clemmons. It got to a point in the seventh Shaw was considering his options batter by batter.

Finally, after Austin Goode and Jacob Heathcock couldn’t end it, it fell to Reaves. Woodward admitted he was getting “kind of nervous” when the Blue Devils were scoring in the seventh, but he had the confidence of a lifelong teammate that Reaves would come through.

The strikeout of Isbell ended an epic battle in which the Moody shortstop fouled off three straight two-strike pitches before swinging at a high pitch for strike three.

“I was pretty confident,” Reaves said. “The adrenaline was going. I was just excited. Whenever I threw that first strike to the first batter and everyone started cheering I kind of got chills. At the end, too, I got chills bad.

“I’ve never been in one that important before. I’ll probably remember that one for a while.”

Reaves had been in that position before — in this series. He pitched out of a less-dramatic bases-loaded one-out situation in the fourth inning of the series’ first game. He pitched the rest of the game and the Blue Devils reached him for four in the eighth to pull out a 5-1 win.

The Valley Cubs broke the 2-2 tie on Dodd’s leadoff homer in the third. Jake Woodward had a two-run triple later in the inning and an RBI double in the fifth. The Cubs scored their eighth run in the fifth after the seemingly unconventional move of bunting a runner into scoring position with a five-run lead.

“The first game I had little easy ground balls to people and I knew I had to hit better if I was going to help this team win,” said Woodward, who was 5-for-7 with five RBIs in the two wins in the series. “If I wanted to help this team win and keep progressing in the playoffs I had to do what I had to do.”

And so did Reaves.

Second-Round Series

Chilton Co. (21-12) at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (32-9)
Benjamin Russell (22-9) at Opelika (18-12)
Northridge (23-14) at Hueytown (32-5)
Baldwin Co. (20-14) at Robertsdale (27-11)
Scottsboro (25-19) at Southside-Gadsden (27-15)
Clay-Chalkville (19-16) at Walker (25-13)
Hartselle (33-17) at Cullman (35-10)
Homewood (18-12) at Oxford (34-8)

Marbury (22-7) at Demopolis (16-8)
Charles Henderson (27-8) at Rehobeth (26-9)
Jemison (30-14) at Helena (33-12)
St. Paul’s (21-9) at Faith-Mobile (25-4)
Lawrence Co. (18-21) at Russellville (38-6)
Mortimer Jordan (28-19) at Alexandria (16-16)
Madison Co. (28-12) at Randolph (34-5)
Pleasant Grove (18-22) at Corner (26-19)

Sipsey Valley/Holtville at Bibb Co. (15-21)
Trinity (21-13) at St. James (20-10)
Oak Grove at Montevallo (22-11) OR Montevallo at Handley
UMS-Wright (25-8) at Andalusia (16-17)
North Jackson (24-8) at Haleyville (25-11)
Cleburne Co. at Cherokee Co. (24-7)
Brooks (23-18) at Wilson (23-17)
Fayette Co. (12-25) at Oneonta (23-8)

Montgomery Aca. (15-10) at American Chr. (25-5)
Wicksburg (18-10) at Geneva (16-9)
Lamar Co. (14-15) at Gordo (27-4)
Bayside Aca. (23-6) at T.R. Miller (26-7)
Plainview (12-11) at Pisgah (23-5)
Westbrook Chr. (22-10) at Piedmont (21-10)
Madison Aca. (27-15) at Colbert Heights (23-4)
Oakman (12-18) at Winfield (29-11)

Elba at New Brockton (24-5) OR New Brockton at Luverne
Providence Chr. (22-10) at Houston Aca. (26-7)
Horseshoe Bend (11-18) at Reeltown (21-9)
Mobile Chr. (19-12) at St. Luke’s (24-6)
Fyffe (15-9) at Section (14-13)
Sumiton Chr. (18-17) at Gaston (15-10)
Phil Campbell (21-16) at Mars Hill Bible (27-10)
Vincent (16-13) at Randolph Co. (25-6)

Billingsley (10-15) at Maplesville (20-4)
Pleasant Home (11-9) at J.U. Blacksher (19-10)
Victory Chr. (18-5) at Ragland (17-9)
Millry (18-10) at Brantley (19-8)
Cedar Bluff (14-16) at Coosa Chr. (21-2)
Meek (20-10) at Decatur Heritage (21-9)
Hackleburg (22-12) at Athens Bible (26-8)
South Lamar (22-10) at Marion Co. (14-11)

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