E.A. Sports Today

Playoffs pending

Weaver, Wellborn have compelling arguments to make the Class 3A playoffs, clarification to be sought Friday

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER — The last of the Weaver Bearcats baseball personnel left their field Thursday night around 11 o’clock “99 percent certain” they were in the Class 3A playoffs. It was a sentiment that prevailed throughout the program, from the public address announcer after the final out to the team’s post-game meeting outside the dugout.

But the Wellborn Panthers left the same field feeling the same way, even though they had just lost the nightcap of Thursday’s doubleheader with the Bearcats 21-17.

The confusion comes from conflicting interpretations of the tiebreakers.

The Bearcats make their claim on beating Wellborn in their series tiebreaker — the 21-17 runfest — and the Panthers not winning an area series. The Panthers contend they’re in by virtue of splitting their two area counting games with Weaver and beating area champion Ohatchee in another for three area victories. There are only three teams in their area.

Compelling arguments on both sides. Wellborn officials plan to call the AHSAA office first thing Friday morning to get a clarification.

“Yes, we believe we are in,” Weaver coach Jamie Harper said. “I’m 99 percent sure, I’m not going to say 100 percent on anything. I checked this morning; it’s there in black and white.”

“They can (believe that),” Wellborn coach Todd Manning said, “but according to what I’ve been told … we didn’t have to play that third game (to get in). No disrespect to (Weaver), they played a heck of a game, but it’s going to come down to a ruling. My principal told me not even to play this game until we got a ruling, but talking to (Weaver principal Mike) Allison over there, he said we needed to play it.”

If the Bearcats prevail, and get their first playoff bid since 2005, it will be on the strength of their wildly entertaining win the nightcap, the rubber game in the series and the game used as a tiebreaker.

If the Panthers get in, it’ll be on the strength of winning Thursday’s first game 6-3, a decision that technically would have eliminated the nightcap from being played. It left the area standings thusly: Ohatchee 3-1 (with the tiebreaker on Wellborn), Wellborn 2-2 and Weaver 1-3 (with the tiebreaker on Wellborn).

Manning was back on the phone after the game looking for clarification. He finds the key passage in the tiebreaker procedure being only the first game at each home site will determine playoffs; the third game is treated as non-area games used only for tiebreakers.

If the ruling comes down in Weaver’s favor Manning said the Panthers would have to accept it because they lost Thursday’s nightcap, which was one of the wildest games of the season.

The Bearcats were down 3-0 before ever coming to the plate, but rallied to open an 18-6 lead after three innings. The Panthers battled back and drew within 18-16 after five innings.

“It was wild; I haven’t had any of those games since Little League,” Weaver second baseman Nick Souder said. “Probably the last time we had one was the same time we played Wellborn in AA at Wellborn where we had the machine pitching to us. That was probably just as crazy as it was tonight.”

The playoff punditry overshadowed some pretty impressive individual performances. Wellborn’s Ked Harris went 8-for-8 in the doubleheader. Brandt Denham and Kane Pitts both homered in the nightcap; Pitts was 4-for-4 with five RBIs. Pitcher Ethan Beadles came within the final pitch of throwing a complete game in the opener. Weaver’s Nick Souder went 4-for-6 with five RBIs, including a pair of two-run singles in an eight-run second inning that put the Bearcats way ahead. Dalton Hamby came on with bases loaded and none out in the seventh inning of the wild nightcap and got out with only one run scoring.

There were eight pitchers total and 313 pitches thrown combined.

“I hadn’t been involved in a game like that since Little League,” Souder said. “It was like when we were in AA playing Wellborn with the pitching machine.”

“I was going to compare it to a football game,” Hamby said. “I’m thinking (when he entered in the seventh) I’m going to own this and I remember everything all the coaches said. All my teammates told me to relax and just throw it.”

“We’re usually not in games like this,” Harper said. “We knew it was going to be like this a little bit because of the pitching rules … We did something today that hadn’t been done here in 12 years, and that’s playoff in the playoffs. To see them playing the way we played this series at the end of the year, to have an opportunity to play in the playoffs, I’m just happy for them.”

Game One
Wellborn 6, Weaver 3
Wellborn 200 020 2 — 6 11 3
Weaver 100 002 0 — 3 7 2

WP: Ethan Beadles. LP: Dalton Hamby. 2B: Brandt Denham (Wea). Hitting – Wellborn: Denham 1-4; Haynes 2-4, run; Montgomery 1-2, 3 runs; Shears 1-3, RBI; McQueen 0-0, run; Hanson 1-3, 2 RBIs; Pitts 2-3, 2 RBIs; Swann 0-4, Brown 0-3, Harris 3-3; Weaver: Hamby 2-4, run; Souder 1-3; Ortiz 0-3; Calhoun 0-3; Hall 2-4, RBI; Donnolly 1-4; Perez 0-2; Thompson 0-0, run; Bryant 0-1; Lemon 1-2, run; Monroe 0-3.

Game Two
Weaver 21, Wellborn 17
Wellborn 321 370 1 — 17 14 3
Weaver 486 003 x — 21 14 5

WP: Blake Hanson. LP: Hunter Haynes. 2B: Jacob Shears (Well), Kane Pitts (Well)
HR: Brandt Denham (Well), Kane Pitts (Well). Hitting – Wellborn: Denham 3-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Haynes 1-4, 2 runs; Montgomery 0-4, 2 runs, RBI; Shears 2-3, 3 runs, 2 RBIs; Hanson 1-4, run, 3 RBIs; Pitts 4-4, 2 runs, 5 RBIs; Swann 0-4, run; Brown 0-4, run; Harris 3-4, 2 runs, 1 RBI. Weaver: Hamby 3-6, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Souder 4-6, 2 runs, 5 RBIs; Ortiz 2-2, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Hall 1-3, 2 runs, RBI; Callhoun 1-3; Donnolly 0-3, 2 runs, RBI; Tyler Perez 0-1, 2 runs, 1 RBI; Colby Thompson 1-2, runs, RBI; Lemon 0-4, run, RBI; Monroe 2-2, 4 runs, 1 RBI.

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