E.A. Sports Today

Close to crunch time

Several Calhoun County baseball teams move into position to clinch playoff berths with area victories Tuesday

Tuesday baseball
Alexandria 11, Douglas 0
Cleburne County 14, Lincoln 1
Donoho 4, Faith Christian 3
Glencoe 3, Pleasant Valley 2
Hokes Bluff 15, Cherokee County 5
Jacksonville 4, White Plains 0
Piedmont 3, Ohatchee 0
Saks 3, Munford 1
Talladega 2, Clay Central 0
Weaver 11, Wellborn 3

By East Alabama Sports Today

Several Calhoun County teams moved into position to clinch playoff berths Tuesday, while one result outside of the county knocked two local teams out of contention.

Saks, Donoho and Weaver are all within one win of clinching a berth. Wellborn and Pleasant Valley have to win twice Thursday, while White Plains and Jacksonville fell out of contention because Hokes Bluff stunned Cherokee County.

Donoho 4, Faith 3: Hall Billings scored the go-ahead run from third base on Jase Alderman’s ground ball to short in the top of the seventh inning and then shut down the Lions in the bottom of the inning to put the Falcons in position to clinch their third straight playoff berth under coach Steve Gendron.

The Falcons scored single runs in the sixth and seventh inning to rally from a 3-2 deficit. Garrett Steed’s RBI single in the sixth tied the game. A win Thursday will give them the playoff berth.

“The boys are aware of the fact that we need to win to get into playoff baseball,” Gendron said. “We play bigger schools all year to put us in a position to be ready to compete in the playoffs. We’ll turn to another sophomore on Thursday, Seth Ford, to help us advance into the playoffs.”

Billings and Jack Sills both were strong on the mound. Both pitchers went the distance and gave up four hits. Sills walked seven and struck out seven. Billings struck out eight. He gave up a leadoff single in the seventh, then started a double play with a popup to the mound and ended the game with a strikeout.

“Pitching Billings will always give us an opportunity to be in the game,” Gendron said. “He has great command and competes his tail off. This afternoon he continued to compete when we were down and gave us an opportunity to win late.”

Donoho 4, Faith Christian 3
Donoho 110 001 1 — 4 4 3
Faith Christian 012 000 0 — 3 4 1

WP: Hall Billings. LP: Jack Sills. 2B: Hall Billings (D), Michael Kulick (F). Hitting – Donoho: Steed 1-3, 2 RBIs; Billings 1-3, 2 runs; Ford 0-2, Alderman 0-4, RBI; J. Billings 0-3; Williamon 1-4; Haney 0-2, 2 runs; Willingham 0-1, C. Williamon 1-2; Brascho 0-0; Faith: Camp 0-3, run; Huie 1-3, run; Sills 0-3, RBI; Key 1-3, RBI; Kulick 1-3, run; Steward 0-2; Martin 0-2; Dodson 1-3; Sewell 0-3.

Saks 3 Munford 1: Cody Hopkins and Eley Downes delivered RBI singles in the sixth inning to snap a 1-1 tie and Brody Johnson got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh with back-to-back strikeouts to end the game to put the Wildcats in position to clinch their first playoff berth under coach Wes Ginn.

Both pitchers were stout. Munford’s Marshall Clark gave up nine hits and struck out 12. Johnson gave up five hits, an unearned run and struck out eight.

If the Wildcats (14-11, 3-2) beat the Lions once Thursday they’re in the playoffs for the first time this decade.

“This next one is huge for our kids,” Ginn said. “This is my fifth year at Saks and we have not been in. The first year I was there … was the closest we’ve been. Last year we won seven games and 11 by one run or in extra innings; we were right there on the brink of being really good. Now we’re winning those games. We know how to fight through them. Our kids are focused, they’ve worked hard all year and in the offseason. I’m just hoping it pays off, hoping the ball falls our way.”

Saks scored a run in the first on Jaylen Childs’ RBI double, but Munford tied it in the fourth on a passed ball. It stayed that way until the sixth when Ethan Borders doubled and scored on Hopkins’ line single and Hopkins scored on Downes’ two-out single.

Munford loaded the bases with one out in the seventh with a hit batsman, walk and single, but Johnson fanned the next two batters – the second on three pitches – to close out the game.

Saks 3, Munford 1
Saks 100 002 0 — 3 9 2
Munford 000 100 0 — 1 5 0

WP: Brody Johnson. LP: Marshall Clark. 2B: Borders (S), Hopkins (S), Burgess (S), Childs (S), Fisher (M). Hitting – Saks: Burgess 2-4, run; Johnson 0-4; Childs 2-3, RBI; C. Ogle 0-3; Hunley 0-4; Borders 1-3, run; Hopkins 2-3, run, RBI; B. Ogle 1-3; Downes 1-2, RBI. Munford: Campbell 0-2; Smith 2-4; Clark 0-3; Green 0-2; Comer 0-0, run; Britt 0-0; Harkins 2-4; Fisher 1-3; Swinford 0-0; Reeves 0-3; Bell 0-2; Threat 0-3.

Jacksonville 4, White Plains 0: Colin Casey fashioned a gem, giving up two singles and striking out 14, but both teams were eliminated from playoff contention in a tough area when Hokes Bluff routed Cherokee County 15-5.

Casey threw 114 pitches (72 for strikes). The only hits he allowed was a first-inning single to White Plains pitcher Andrew Norred and Charlie Huey’s two-out single in the fourth. He struck out at least one batter in every inning, two batters or more in four and struck out the side in the first and seventh.

The Golden Eagles gave Casey all the runs he needed in the second on Colton Clark’s two-run single. Brant Deerman drove in a run with a third-inning sacrifice fly and Dylan Murphy scored on a wild pitch in the sixth.

Jacksonville 4, White Plains 0
White Plains 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Jacksonville 021 001 x — 4 6 2

WP: Colin Casey. LP: Andrew Norred. 2B: Brant Deerman (J). Hitting – White Plains: Cronan 0-4; 0-3; Norred 1-3; Beaver 0-2; Dopson 0-3; Huey 1-3; McCulley 0-2; McGuirk 0-2; Morgan 0-3. Jacksonville: Clark 2-3, 2 RBIs; Glass 0-3; Casey 1-4, run; Morris 2-3; Lackey 0-3; Mak Curry 0-2; Deerman 1-2, run, RBI; Breeding 0-1; Charping 0-1; Murphy 0-1; Seeger 0-0, 2 runs.

Piedmont 3, Ohatchee 0: Logan Pruitt and Taylor Hayes combined for a five-hit shutout. Pruitt worked the first five innings, allowing four hits. Hayes finished up with four strikeouts. Hayes went 3-for-3 at the plate for the Bulldogs. Jaylon Jenkins was 3-for-3 for Ohatchee. Taylor Morrow homered for Piedmont leading off the third inning.

Piedmont 3, Ohatchee 0
Piedmont 011 000 1 — 3 7 2
Ohatchee 000 000 0 — 0 5 3

WP: Logan Pruitt. LP: Jaylon Jenkins. HR: Taylor Morrow. Hitting – Piedmont: Hayes 3-3; Graves 0-3, RBI; Kirk 0-4; Morrow 1-2, 2 runs, RBI; Baer 1-4, RBI; Mohon 0-3; Chasteen 0-1; Johnson 0-3; Fairs 1-4; Rogers 1-3; Doss 0-0, run. Ohatchee: Eubanks 0-3; Jenkins 3-3; Williamson 0-2; Sellers 0-3; Widgeon 0-3; Noah 1-3; Tucker 0-2; Buckelew 0-3; Graham 1-2.

Weaver 11, Wellborn 3: The Bearcats erupted for nine runs in the final two innings to move into position to claim a playoff berth. Wellborn tied the game 2-2 in the third on Jordan Montgomery’s RBI line single and it stayed that way until Weaver batted around in the sixth.

The Bearcats broke the tie by scoring on a passed ball. Drake Monroe had a two-run single later in the inning and Dalton Hamby followed with a two-run homer. Cody Ortiz had a two-run double in the seventh. Hamby, Ortiz and Jake Donnolly all had three hits for the Bearcats.

Weaver 11, Wellborn 3
Weaver 020 005 4 — 11 13 1
Wellborn 101 001 0 — 3 7 5

WP: Austin Bryant. LP: Brandt Denham. 2B: Perez (Wea), Ortiz (Wea). 3B: Donnolly (Wea), Monroe (Wea). HR: Hamby (Wea). Hitting – Weaver: Hamby 3-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Souder 1-4, run; Ortiz 3-4, 2 RBIs; Calhoun 0-5; Hall 0-4; Bryant 0-3, run; Perez 1-3, 2 runs; Donnolly 3-4, 3 runs, RBI; Monroe 2-4, 2 runs, 3 RBIs. Wellborn: Denham 1-3, 2 runs; Haynes 0-4; Montgomery 2-3, RBI; Shears 2-3, run, RBI; Hanson 0-3; Pitts 1-3; Swann 0-3; Smith 0-3; Harris 1-3.

Alexandria 11, Douglas 0: Austin Goode threw a no-hitter for the Valley Cubs.

Talladega 2, Clay Central 0: Gianluca Lagrutta allowed one hit and struck out nine and the Tigers gave him the runs he needed for a victory by scoring twice in the sixth inning. The only hit Lagrutta allowed was a two-out single by Camryn Clark in the sixth inning. Clay Central starter Chip Ogles was equally impressive. He gave up four hits, two unearned runs and striking out nine.

Hokes Bluff 15, Cherokee County 5: The Eagles broke open a close game by scoring eight in the sixth inning. The game ended on Fisher Simmons’ three-run homer. Simmons had two hits and four RBIs. Dylan Teague went 4-for-4 with three RBIs for the Eagles. The teams will play for first and second in their area Thursday, having eliminated White Plains and Jacksonville Tuesday.

Cleburne County 14, Lincoln 1: Jordan Brown drove in six runs with a two-run single in the first and a seventh-inning grand slam and started among three pitchers who combined on a two-hitter for the Tigers.

The Tigers had control of this one from the start. They scored four in the first inning and led 7-0 after three inning. They put it out of reach with six in the seventh. Brock Swafford went 3-for-3 with four runs and two RBIs. Nick Dunston went 3-for-5.

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