E.A. Sports Today

Typically tight

Bats come alive as Wellborn splits a pair of one-run games in its Class 3A tournament opener

By East Alabama Sports Today

PISGAH – The Wellborn Panthers saw the intensity of playoff baseball firsthand Friday as they split a pair of one-run games in their Class 3A playoff openers.

The Panthers won the first game 7-6, then dropped the nightcap 12-11 in eight innings. The teams will play Saturday at 1 p.m. to settle the series. The winner gets Lauderdale County (20-11) in the second round.

Wellborn is expected to start Hunter Haynes, while Pisgah is expected to count with Wyatt Whisenant.

“It’s the playoffs,” Wellborn coach Todd Manning said. “There are no bad teams in the playoffs. You’re playing the best; you have to expect to have games like that.

“They’re two similar teams playing their best. We came out on top on one and they did another.”

The teams combined for five homers in the first game. Blake Hanson, Jacob Shears and Brandt Denham hit them for the Panthers, while Audy Smothers and Austin Smith went yard for Pisgah late in the game.

Wellborn led 5-1 after four innings. Pisgah made it a one-run game with three in the fifth, then the teams matched runs over the final two innings.

Denham’s solo homer gave the Panthers (9-11) a 6-4 lead in the sixth, but Pisgah (10-12) got it back on a Smith homer in the bottom of the inning.

Shears’ home with one out in the seventh put Wellborn ahead 7-5. Pisgah answered again with Smothers’ one-out homer, then the Eagles loaded the bases with two outs on two singles and an error, but Ethan Beadles got the game-ending out on an infield grounder.

Denham went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, while Shears and Hanson each went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Hunter Haynes and Kane Pitts also had two hits apiece.

Wellborn had leads early and late in the nightcap, but couldn’t close. They held leads of 5-1 and 6-4 in the first three innings, then after Pisgah pulled ahead they rallied to take a 10-9 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Denham doubled home the first run, Jordan Montgomery’s two-run double tied the game and Hanson’s RBI single put them ahead.

The Eagles tied it 10-10 and forced extra innings on Houston Bell’s two-out RBI single in the top of the seventh.

They took a 12-10 lead in the top of the eighth on Erby Jenkins’ infield out and Whisenant’s RBI single. The Panthers rallied in their half of the inning when Hanson singled home Montgomery with one out and they had the tying run in scoring position, but couldn’t get it home.

Hanson went 4-for-5 with two RBIs, while Denham and Montgomery were both 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Pitts had two hits.

“We were in position tonight to win it,” Manning said, “Somehow errors starting rolling up on us.”

Wellborn 7, Pisgah 6
Wellborn 112 101 1 — 7 12 3
Pisgah 001 031 1 — 6 6 0

WP: Ethan Beadles. LP: Audy Smothers. 2B: Houston Bell (P). 3B: Brandt Denham (W), Ked Harris (W). HR: Blake Hanson (W), Jacob Shears (W), Brandt Denham (W), Audy Smothers (P), Austin Smith (P)

Pisgah 12, Wellborn 11
Pisgah 013 113 12 — 12 12 5
Wellborn 141 004 01 — 11 15 6

WP: Malachi Griggs. LP: Blake Hanson. 2B: Audy Smothers (P), Houston Bell (P), Ryan Evans (P), Blake Hanson (W), Brandt Denham (W), Jordan Montgomery (W), Kane Pitts (W). 3B: Nick Feltman (P). HR: Audy Smothers (P), Ryan Evans (P).

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