E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs split

Hayes brilliant in two games on the mound as Piedmont splits quarterfinal doubleheader with Lauderdale County

Piedmont left-hander Taylor Hayes was brilliant in Wednesday’s playoff doubleheader. He gave up seven hits, one run and struck out 20, and the guys on the balcony (cover) recorded them all. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

AHSAA State Baseball Playoffs
Third-round Results
Class 1A
Athens Bible 5-13, South Lamar (27-9) 2-1 (Athens Bible (21-12) wins series 2-0)
Decatur Heritage 12-12, Cedar Bluff (19-14) 7-1 (Decatur Heritage (21-11) wins series 2-0)
Class 3A
Lauderdale Co. (20-10) 0-9, Piedmont (24-12) 11-0 (Game 3 at Piedmont, Thurs., 5 p.m.)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT — There was good and bad news coming out of Piedmont’s doubleheader split with Lauderdale County in the Class 3A quarterfinals Wednesday.

The good news is the Bulldogs have two fresh quality arms to send to the mound in Thursday’s winner-take-all Game 3. The bad news, considering the way he pitched, is one of them is not named Taylor Hayes.

Piedmont won Game 1, 11-0 in five innings. Lauderdale County won the nightcap with one big inning, 9-0.

Hayes, a bulldog of a Bulldog left-hander, started both games and filled up the strike zone like maybe one other time in his career. He pitched 8 1/3 total innings, gave up seven hits, one run and struck out 20 — eight in the first game and 12 in the second.

He got the win in the first game and took the loss in the second. The only reason he got hung with the loss is he gave up a leadoff double in the sixth inning of a scoreless game with his final allowable pitch before the Tigers erupted for nine runs.

“I was just kind of feeling it on the mound,” Hayes said. “Easton (Kirk) called a good game, the guys behind me backed me up and the first game we hit the ball really good. My slider was working with my fastball and I was able to get outs.”

“We got all we could get out of him because he still had good stuff,” Piedmont coach Matt Deerman said. “We left him out there as long as we could.”

Hayes struck out the side three times. Eight of his 10 outs in the first game came via the strikeout. In the nightcap, 11 of his last 12 outs were punch-outs.

He threw 47 pitches in the first game (33 for strikes) and was pulled after the first out in the fourth so he could start Game 2. By the time he was lifted in the second game, Piedmont pitchers had fanned 25 Lauderdale County batters.

“That kid did an outstanding job; I tip my cap to Hayes,” Lauderdale County coach Corey Looney said. “He pitched really well tonight. He kept us off-balance. We tip our cap to him because he’s a heck of a player. … He may not have been as sharp, (but) he was still really good that second game, but we were able to get his pitch count up and get him out of there.”

The teams are scheduled to play to decide the series at 5 p.m. Thursday, weather permitting. Lauderdale County (20-10) won the coin toss and will be the home team.

The Bulldogs (24-12) are likely to start either Easton Kirk or Logan Pruitt on the mound, who Hayes said “haven’t lost a game in I can’t tell you when.” Kirk was sharp in Game 2 last week at West Morgan and Pruitt gave them a rare Game 3 victory.

The Tigers (20-10), meanwhile, also have two options — Jake Maner and Slayden Swanson. In Game 2, they turned to Sloan Wilson, a big right-hander headed for UAH who was making his first start of the year, and he checked the Bulldogs on two hits.

“He played first all year and he’s come in to close some,” Looney said. “in this situation with our backs against the wall I went to him and said I’ve gotta have you because I knew what he’s capable of. He stepped up tonight for us in that role.”

Hayes was a big hitting in the opener as well. He led off the Bulldogs’ six-run first with a homer and had a two-run single later in the inning. He ended up going 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Mason Mohon hit a three-run homer in a five-run third inning that set them up for the run-rule.

But it was another high school rule that stopped him in the second game. Hayes was limited to 120 total pitches for the day and while he said he felt strong enough to finish, AHSAA rules say he was done after he reached the limit. Of his 121 pitches, 85 were for strikes.

“I wish I could have finished it,” Hayes said. “I think I might have pitched out of it, but they just started hitting the ball. Props to them.”

His last pitch of the day went for a leadoff double by Wilson, who the Bulldogs intentionally walked twice earlier in the game. The Tigers then teed off on the two pitchers who followed him — Taylor Morrow, who pitched equally as brilliant behind Hayes in the first game, and Derrick Baer.

The Tigers sent 14 men to the plate in the sixth. Slade Brown and Wilson both had two-run singles in the inning.

“That’s just baseball,” Hayes said. “I definitely didn’t put them in a good spot either with that leadoff double. It would’ve probably been better to walk him.”

The Piedmont baseball team rushes to greet Mason Mohon after the middle infielder hit a three-run homer in Game One Wednesday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

[table id=44 /]

Lauderdale Co. 000 00 — 0 3 3
Piedmont 605 0x — 11 8 1

LOB — Lauderdale County 2, Piedmont 5. E — Levi Greer, Glint Newton, Alex Newton, Bailey Graves. WP: Taylor Hayes. LP: Parker Garner. HR — Taylor Jayes, Mason Mohon.

[table id=46 /]

[table id=42 /]

Piedmont 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
Lauderdale Co. 000 009 x — 9 10 2

LOB — Piedmont 7, Lauderdale County 7. E — Easton Kirk, Dayne Palmer, Alex Newton. 2B — Sloan Wilson.

[table id=43 /]

T.J. Fairs (5) slides into second with a stolen base during Piedmont’s five-run third inning in the opener. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

To see more B.J. Franklin photos from the doubleheader go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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