E.A. Sports Today

Something special

Ranburne’s Young ready to see ‘where the season takes me’ as he returns from 2015 knee injury

Ranburne sophomore right-hander Brock Young pitched a complete-game, two-hit shutout and struck out 14. (Photo by Larry Dobbs)

Friday’s Games
Oxford 7, Hartselle 4
Jacksonville Christian 10, Skyline 9
Ranburne 2, Donoho 0
Victory Christian 14, Faith Christian 2

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

It will be hard to find another high school pitcher in East Alabama more appreciable of being on the mound this season than Ranburne’s Brock Young.

The sophomore right-hander tore the ACL in his left knee – his landing leg as a pitcher – two years ago and has been working to get back in the game ever since.

He was pretty sharp Friday in what effectively was his first comfortable outing since the injury. He threw a two-hit complete-game shutout and struck out 14 as the Bulldogs opened their season with a 2-0 win at Donoho.

“Seeing it last year and not being able to be out here to help my team … I cried a lot,” Young said. “Just to be out here is something special. I never take it for granted now. Every pitch I can throw, every at-bat I can take, I just love to take.”

Young hurt his knee during a junior high football game two years ago. He developed a staph infection during his recovery and almost lost his leg – not the use of his leg, his leg, to amputation. He had three surgeries — two in one week — and if there were a fourth, he said, they would have taken the leg.

Luckily it didn’t come to that. He healed quickly enough to be released from care early and returned to the diamond last spring. He played in five games, pitching in two, but not effectively.

“It was real hard for me to pitch,” he said. “I didn’t have near the velocity because it was all arm. We really ran out of pitchers in the playoffs. I came in to pitch in relief in the first inning and finished the game, but I got smacked around. It was a good humbling experience, though.”

He went to the mound Friday and largely throwing fastballs mowed down the young Falcons hitters. He went through his first trip through their lineup in order, didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning and allowed only four base runners. He threw 93 pitches and finished the game by striking out the side in order in the seventh.

“I’m excited,” he said. “Threw 93 and felt pretty good. I’m going to go home and ice and see where the season takes me.”

Actually, Young wasn’t expected to go so long in the season opener, but it was a comfortable day for baseball and the game was tight. The extended start didn’t seem to bother him.

“Watching him last year you could tell he wasn’t quite there yet,” Bulldogs coach Steve Bailey said. “Coming out Day One here and throwing the way he did should make his confidence level very high.

“He was really the only guy with any pitching experience coming back, so we knew he would probably be our No. 1, so at least it gives all of us the confidence we do have a 1 we can count on.”

For the sake of perspective, Young was facing a lineup filled with players as young as seventh graders. The Falcons have only one senior on their roster and he was unavailable on an intercession trip overseas.

Still, after some initial timidity, the Falcons were in the game the whole way. They had the tying runner in scoring position in the fourth inning and a runner at third base in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but couldn’t bring them home.

Donoho coach Steve Gendron said his own pitcher, Seth Ford, pitched “a real good game” after settling into a rhythm. Ford pitched the whole game, giving up four hits and striking out seven.

Ranburne scored its two runs in the fourth inning on an error through the infield after Young doubled and Tray Yarbrough’s single bounced past the center fielder. Ford’s young infield bailed him out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth with an inning-ending double play.

“I think we’re a young team, I think we were very nervous early,” Gendron said. “The first time through the lineup we were very timid; we were taking a lot of fastballs for strikes. When we compete against the bigger schools, the top of our lineup is going to have to show up every game.

“I think we learned a lot today. I was proud of the way the guys competed. Hopefully, we got some of the young jitters out of us and show up a little more aggressive at the plate tomorrow (against Victory Christian).”

Oxford 7, Hartselle 4: Brody Syer went 4-for-4 with two doubles and Hayden Lindsey hit a two-run homer for the Yellow Jackets. Jacob Sears was credited with the victory and Hayden Green notched the save.

Friday Linescore
Ranburne 2, Donoho 0
Ranburne 000 200 0 — 2 4 0
Donoho 000 000 0 — 0 2 2

Brock Young and Brad Walker; Seth Ford and Reed Willamon. 2B: Young (R). WP: Young. LP: Ford.

Brock Young hit a leadoff double in the fourth inning and scored Ranburne’s first run against Donoho. (Photo by Larry Dobbs)

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