E.A. Sports Today

Baseball roundup

Cleburne, Cherokee split; Alexandria wins opener, Game Two moved; Piedmont swept from playoffs

By Shannon Fagan
Cherokee County Herald

CENTRE — Pitching has been a strong point all season for both Cherokee County and Cleburne County. When the two teams clashed in their Class 4A second-round playoff series on Friday, the pressure was on their hitters to come through with runners in scoring position.

In Game One, the fifth-ranked Warriors did that just a little better in a 5-2 win. Game Two was a little different story. Cleburne County built a six-run lead thanks to an eight-run second inning before a 42-minute lightning delay and managed to hold on for a 9-6 victory to force a split.

The decisive third game is Saturday at 1 p.m. in Centre.

“Heflin’s got a good team, but we left a whole lot of runners in both games,” Cherokee County coach Fran Blanchard said. “We just didn’t get the job done, but the great thing about tomorrow is you get a third game, and we’re looking forward to that.”

Saturday’s series finale could come down to which team has the most pitching arms left. The Tigers used four pitchers in the second game, while the Warriors used just two. Both teams’ starters went the distance in the first game.

The Tigers (18-15) are used to using a lot of arms. Coach Vaughn Lee admitted he didn’t know what his game plan for Saturday’s winner-take-all game was, but felt confident he could come up with something.

“It’s game three,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of baseball this year, and we’ve used a lot of pitching. We used a lot of pitching last week (against Hokes Bluff). We’ll have a lot of decisions to make, but we’ve got a lot of arms and a lot of experience with those arms. How we attack tomorrow, I don’t know, but we’ll go home and get a plan for that.”

The Warriors will be without one of their arms in Christian Stinson. He suffered a deep cut to his right ankle playing first base in Game One. It took nine stitches to seal the wound.

With Game Two tied 1-1, the Tigers chased Warrior starter Ledbetter with an eight-run third. Left fielder Josh Davis, right fielder Trevor Houston and third baseman Brock Swafford each delivered two-run singles. Designated hitter Damian Benefield and catcher Austin Harler had also added RBI hits.

Benefield led the Tigers at the plate in the second game, going 3-for-3 with a double and a RBI. Harler, third baseman Brock Swafford and left fielder Josh Davis each had a pair of hits. Right fielder Trevor Houston had a two-run single.

In game one, Warrior starter Bronson Chandler held the Tigers scoreless until the top of the sixth. By that point, the Warriors (25-8) had built a 5-0 lead behind a two-run homer by Jy Lockridge and RBI singles by Colin Brewer and Caleb Ransum.

“We didn’t play real good Tiger baseball today, but we’re thankful to have another day to come back tomorrow and try to get everything put together,” Lee said.

Alexandria 4, Mortimer Jordan 2

Griffin Carroll’s two-run double off the end of his bat in the fifth inning broke a 2-2 tie and Will Reaves gave up four hits and struck out 10 as the Valley Cubs won the series opener.

Game Two was moved to Saturday at 11 a.m. because of bad weather. A third game, if necessary, will be played immediately after.

“Will struggled a little bit there with his control, but got out of it and got stronger as the game went on,” Alexandria coach Andy Shaw said. “Griff’s hit was a big, big hit. I don’t want to say too much right now.”

The Valley Cubs took a 2-0 lead on Cody Dodd’s RBI double in the first and back-to-back doubles by Dodd and Jacob Heathcock in the third.

Mortimer Jordan tied it with two in the fourth. Reaves walked the bases with one out in the third, but got out of it with a strikeout and infield grounder. He struck out four of the first six batters he faced and the side in order in the sixth.

Westbrook Christian 14, Piedmont 1
Westbrook Christian 12, Piedmont 6

PIEDMONT – Westbrook Christian used a six-run inning to close out the first game and a seven-run first to get the nightcap started and eliminated Piedmont from the playoffs.

The Warriors already opened an 8-1 lead against Piedmont ace Taylor Hayes when they sent 11 batters to the plate against reliever Bailey Graves in the fifth. Graves got the first out of the inning, but then the next six batters reached base and scored.

Westbrook pounded 14 hits in the game with Tyler Self getting three and four others getting two apiece. Kyle Leonard, Chandler Richards and Cullen Stafford all drove in three runs.

Derrick Baer drove in Piedmont’s run with a two-out single in the fourth. It was the Bulldogs’ only hit off Self in five innings.

In the nightcap, Easton Kirk’s two-run homer gave Piedmont a 2-0 lead in the first, but Westbrook answered with seven in the bottom of the inning. It was 10-2 after two.

The Warriors sent 11 batters to the plate against Bulldogs starter Caleb Morrow in the first with Kyle Edwards’ two-run single and Garrett Kennedy’s two-run double on consecutive at-bats providing the biggest blows.

Edwards drove in four runs with two hits. Hayes had two RBIs on a pair of doubles for Piedmont.

On the cover: Cleburne County’s Max Watson delivers a pitch to Cherokee County in their Class 4A playoff game Friday.

Second-round Scores

Maplesville 9, Billingsley 3
Maplesville 7, Billingsley 0, susp., 4th inning
J.U. Blacksher 12-11, Pleasant Home 2-3
Ragland 5, Victory Christian 2, 5 inns.
Brantley 12-17, Millry 2-6
Cedar Bluff 14-3, Coosa Christian 1-4
Decatur Heritage 3-3, Meek 2-0
Athens Bible 9, Hackleburg 8

New Brockton 4-10, Luverne 4-10
Houston Academy 6-6, Providence Christian 5-3
Reeltown 12-5, Horseshoe Bend 0-9
Mobile Christian 2-3, St. Luke’s Episcopal 4-3
Fyffe 7, Section 0. Susp., 4th inning
Sumiton Christian 0-5, Gaston 1-1
Randolph County 2-9, Vincent 0-1

Geneva 7-12, Wicksburg 2-4
Bayside Academy 1-5, T.R. Miller 4-1
Pisgah 4, Plainview 3
Pisgah 1, Plainview 0 (forfeit)
Westbrook Christian 14-12, Piedmont 1-6

Bibb County 12, Sipsey Valley 2
Saint James 4-7, Trinity Presbyterian 0-2
Montevallo 11, Oak Grove 4
UMS-Wright 13-0 Andalusia 0-1
Cherokee County 5-6, Cleburne County 2-9
Oneonta 7, Fayette County 5

Demopolis 7-2, Marbury 6-0
Rehobeth 4-23, Charles Henderson 3-12
Helena 7, Jemison 2
Faith Academy 2-3, St. Paul’s Episcopal 1-1
Alexandria 4, Mortimer Jordan 2

Benjamin Russell 2-6, Opelika 5-4
Hueytyown 7, Northridge 0
Baldwin County 1-8, Robertsdale 2-4
Scottsboro 6, Southside-Gadsden 1
Homewood 2-2, Oxford 1-14

Auburn 1-0, Enterprise 0-5
Central-Phenix City 10-10, Prattville 0-0
Davidson 8-7, Fairhope 4-6
McGill-Toolen 0-14, Theodore 5-4
Vestavia Hills 4, Oak Mountain 2
Hewitt-Trussville 18, Hoover 2, susp., 5th inning
Huntsville 1, Bob Jones 0, susp., 5th inning

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