E.A. Sports Today

Moustache’d Mashers

Playoff roundup: Cherokee County churns out hits in second-round sweep of DAR; Munford splits with Bibb County

By Shannon Fagan
Special to East Alabama Sports Today

CENTRE — Major League Baseball in the 1980s had all sorts of fun nicknames, everything from the Chicago Cubs’ “Killer Ds” to the Oakland Athletics’ “Bash Brothers”.

The Cherokee County baseball team decided to go a little retro this week before their Class 4A second-round playoff series against visiting DAR. They let their facial hair grow out.

Sorry, team mothers and player girlfriends. You’re going to have to deal with the Warriors’ springtime version of Movember for as long as they are alive in post-season play and they are for at least for another week after Friday’s doubleheader sweep in front of a packed crowd at Bobby Beckett Field.

Senior second baseman Jaren Lockridge went a combined 9-for-9, including a pair of triples in the nightcap, to help the Warriors earn a 16-6 victory in Game 1 in five innings and a 20-6 win in Game 2. The sweep secured the eighth-ranked Warriors (25-8) their first third-round playoff appearance since 1981, hosting fifth-ranked Madison Academy.

“We decided to do this (growing moustaches) at the beginning of this week,” Lockridge said. “We’ve all been growing them out all week. Our moms don’t like them. Our girlfriends don’t like them, but you know what? If it works, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

Even Warrior coaches Fran and Coty Blanchard and Drew Hall have put their razors away for the playoff run.

“It’s hard to look at,” Fran Blanchard joked about his moustache. “We just said ‘Hey, let’s do something for the (playoff) run.’ I don’t know how the moustaches got out there, but they are. We’re all doing the Just for Men comb-ons. Mine was gray. Coty’s got one. Stinky (Christian Stinson) went with the chops. Gunnar (Gable) has a blonde fu manchu. It’s just a fun way to bond. I guess I’ll have to keep mine until we’re done, hopefully in Montgomery.”

Lockridge might especially want to keep his moustache even when he heads to Chattanooga State following graduation after his perfect performance at the plate on Friday. He went 4-for-4 in Game 1 with an intentional walk. He topped that with a 5-for-5 outing in Game 2 with six RBIs.

“It was just one of those days where everything went perfectly right,” he said. “Everything from when you wake up to the school day, everything was just going right. BP (batting practice) before the game was perfect. Everyone was excited to play. Everyone was spanking the baseball. Everyone was making the plays. Everyone was ready to be out here and ready to play DAR. I just felt like it was a good day.”

It was a good day for several Warriors, including senior designated hitter Colin Brewer.
Just two weeks removed from eye surgery, Brewer went 2-for-3 in Game 1, including a three-run homer in the first inning. He also went 2-for-3 in the second game with a pair of intentional walks.

“My vision is still not there yet, but I’m working on it,” Brewer said with a smile. “I’m having to hit with shades that I’m not too comfortable with, but it’s getting better day by day.”
Brewer said the Warriors were focused on getting off to a good start against the Patriots (14-12).

The Warriors’ four-run first inning in Game 1 definitely set the tone for the day, and it was more than enough run support for pitchers Noah Ledbetter and Christian Stinson. Ledbetter started and picked up the win. He tossed three innings of one-hit ball.

In the second game, DAR got out to the early lead with three runs in the bottom of the second inning. The Warriors got one of those runs back in the top of the third, then sent 17 batters to the plate in the fourth and scored 12 runs to take a 13-3 lead. They scored a run in the top of the fifth and finished the game off with six more runs in the top of the sixth for the final.

“That was a lot of runs in two games for us, but you never felt at ease,” Fran Blanchard said. “We’ve been streaky this year. We’ve been really, really hot, then we’d come back and lay an egg with a 2-1 game or something like that. The top (of the lineup) was extraordinary tonight and did a really good job. I was especially happy with Zae (Wright) in the nine hole.”

Game One
Cherokee County 16, DAR 6
DAR 000 33 — 6 12 6
Cherokee County 456 01 — 16 20 0

WP: Ledbetter. LP: Stubblefield. 2B: Ray (CC). HR: Brewer (CC).

Game Two
Cherokee County 20, DAR 6
Cherokee County 001 (12)16 — 20 19 1
DAR 030 300 — 6 9 4

WP: Decker. LP: Campbell. 2B: Gossett (CC), Sanderson (D), Harbin (D). 3B: Ja. Lockridge 2 (CC)

Munford 5-8, Bibb County 4-14

MUNFORD – A balk, a passed ball and Tanner Reeves’ RBI single all produced runs in the thiree-run sixth inning that lifted the Lions to the win in the opener. Dakota Green and Zayy Britt both went 2-for-3. The Lions rallied from 1-0, 3-2 and 4-2 deficits before their big inning.

In the second game, Bibb County erased a 5-1 Munford lead with a seven-run third inning. Bibb County sent 12 batters to the plate in their big inning Kaden Kornegay had a two-run single and TyQuan Anderson had a two-run double in the inning. The first three hitters in Bibb County’s lineup were a combined 6-for-11 with eight RBIs

Ethan Swinford had three hits for Munford, while Draven Campbell, Nick Fisher and Britt had two hits apiece.

The teams will play Saturday at 1 p.m. in Munford to decide the area champion.

Game One
Munford 5, Bibb County 4
Bibb County 010 201 0 — 4 10 0
Munford 002 003 x — 5 6 2

WP: Clark. LP: Anderson. 2B: Martin (B), Kornegay (B). HR: Martin (HR)

Game Two
Bibb County 14, Munford 8
Munford 302 012 0 — 8 13
Bibb County 107 114 — 14 10 4

2B: Harkins (M), Green (M), Hiott (B), Anderson 2 (B). 3B: Dial (B), Kornegay (B), Hiott (B)

Shannon Fagan is in the sports editor about of Cherokee Herald.

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