E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont proceeds

Bulldogs finally win a Game 3 again and it carries them to the Class 3A quarterfinals against Lauderdale County

By East Alabama Sports Today

TRINITY — In the seven years Matt Deerman has been coaching at Piedmont, the Bulldogs and Game 3s just have never gotten along.

They would typically sweep and occasionally get swept, but when it came to the decisive third game of a playoff series, the Bulldogs didn’t have much luck.

They changed that history Saturday, getting an early homer from Derrick Baer and a complete-game three-hitter from sophomore Logan Pruitt to beat West Morgan 4-2 to win their Class 3A second-round series.

The Bulldogs (22-11) now play Lauderdale County (22-11) in a doubleheader Wednesday beginning at 4 p.m. A third game, if necessary, is scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m.

Before Saturday Deerman figured he’s won only one Game 3 since he’s been coaching at Piedmont — against Cleveland in the 2013 opening round. Since then, the Bulldogs have lost Game 3s to Mars Hill (2013 quarterfinals), Madison Academy (2014 semifinals) and Winfield (2015 third round). Last year, they swept Ohatchee and were swept by Westbrook Christian.

“That kind of stuff sticks in your mind as a coach,” Deerman said. “We’ve tried to stress to them that just because you lose Game 1 with your ace on the mound it’s not over, that you’ve got to trust your teammates; that’s why you have them.

“It was good to get that monkey off our back. They believe in me and it’s made me proud as a coach. We tell them we’re going to get in a Game 3 situation and we have to prepare through the year for it. Today they were confident. It made me proud they bought into it as a first-year coach.”

The Bulldogs grabbed the upper hand in the game in the first inning when Baer followed the walk-off grand slam he hit in Friday’s nightcap with a two-run homer. He launched a low fastball low into the wind and it carried out of the park. It was the first non-grand slam among the three homers he’s hit this season.

“Getting off to a 2-0 start like we did was awesome,” Baer said. “When we came out of the dugout to warm up we were all pumped and when we got up to bat it was just like the night before.”

Baer went hitless in the first game of the series, but in the two wins he went 4-for-6 with four runs and eight RBIs.

“He has gotten hot at the right time,” Deerman said. “He started off the year kind of slow but throughout the year he has just gradually gotten better. He’s had good at bats and clutch hits for his the past two weeks. People have really thought twice about walking Easton (Kirk) and (Taylor) Morrow now you’ve got a guy who’s hit two home runs sitting right behind them. He makes the top of the order more scary.”

The early lead took a little pressure off Pruitt, although it took him a couple hitters to settle in. He walked the leadoff hitter and hit the third one, but then he was untouchable, retiring 15 of the next 17 batters he faced until giving up his first two hits of the game – back-to-back homers with two outs in the sixth that made it a 3-2 game.

Normally a ground ball pitcher who lets the defense do its job, he struck out seven. He has given up only 10 runs in his last five appearances – all since Deerman took him out of the batting order on the days he pitches to increase his focus.

Once Pruitt got the jitters out Saturday Deerman said he was “as good as he’s been all year.” When the Bulldogs got an insurance run in the top of the seventh, it gave Deerman the confidence to leave Pruitt in for the complete game.

“I had some good stuff today,” Pruitt said. “My curve was working good for me and I was able to keep them on their toes and the defense played really good behind me; that’s what helped me the most.

“All we want to do was get to the next series and I was going to do whatever I had to do to get to it. I was a little nervous at the beginning, but once I settled in I was good from there.”

Piedmont 4, West Morgan 2
Piedmont 200 100 1 — 4 3 0
West Morgan 000 002 0 — 2 3 2

(Piedmont wins series 2-1)
WP: Logan Pruitt. LP: Zac Mills. 2B: Easton Kirk (P). HR: Derrick Baer (P). Hitting – Piedmont: Taylor Hayes 0-4, Easton Kirk 1-3; Taylor Morrow 0-2, run; Derrick Baer 1-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Bailey Graves 0-2, RBI; Mason Mohon 1-3, run; Nick Johnson 0-3; T.J. Fairs 0-2; Cole Chasteen 0-0; Michael Rogers 0-3. West Morgan: Alex Traynom 0-2; Parker Henson 0-3; Zac Mills 1-2, run, RBI; Shane Peters 1-3, run, RBI; Ashton Owens 0-3; Chandler James 0-3; Peyton Barnes 0-3; Glavine Seagars 1-3; Trentin McGregor 0-2. Pitching (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K) – Piedmont: Logan Pruitt 7-3-2-2-2-7. West Morgan: Zac Mills 7-3-4-2-1-1

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