E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont drops opener

Gordo holds Bulldogs to one hit in Game 1 of Class 3A title series; Deerman ‘likes our chances still,’ but team must play better

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY – The first thing Piedmont baseball coach Matt Deerman reminded his players of when they huddled outside the dugout after the game was this is a best-of-3 series not a best-of-1.

Actually, there wasn’t too much best about this one at all; the Bulldogs have had better.

Gordo pitched and hit its way past the Bulldogs 9-0 Monday night in the opening game of their best-of-3 Class 3A championship series at Riverwalk Stadium. The series continues Tuesday at 4 p.m., with a third game, which the Bulldogs hope is necessary, to follow.

“We’ve been in this situation before,” Deerman said. “We’ve got our two hosses left on the mound and it’s best two-out-of-three, it’s not best-of-one. We’ll have to regroup, come back tomorrow and prove we’re better than what we showed today.

“I like our chances still, but we’ve got to play better than what we did tonight. … We’ll be better tomorrow.”

The Bulldogs (27-13) will throw ace Taylor Hayes in the do-or-die first game, then come back with Easton Kirk in the winner-take-all third game if they get that far. Gordo coach Jonathan Pate wasn’t certain of his pitching plans immediately after the game, but noted the Greenwave (33-7) have four options.

The pitcher Gordo threw Monday night was pretty good. Right-hander Thomas Langdon, who was “just trying to be careful” with Piedmont’s big hitters at the top of the lineup, held the Bulldogs to one hit — a fourth-inning infield single by Easton Kirk in their biggest threat of the game.

Langdon went through the Piedmont lineup in order the first time through and gave up only four base runners all game. When the Bulldogs mounted their biggest threat, loading the bases with one out in the fourth, he induced Mason Mohon into an inning-ending double play.

“He kept us off-balance all night pretty much,” Kirk said. “He had three pitches he could throw for a strike and that’s the key to pitching. If somebody is on, throwing all three pitches for strikes, it’s hard to hit them, it doesn’t matter how hard they throw. He did a really good job locating his fastball and he didn’t leave many pitches up in the zone.”

“We didn’t really have good approach going up there,” Hayes said. “Not taking anything away from that guy because he threw good, but I thought we should have hit the ball better than we did.”

Deerman handed his Game One start to sophomore Logan Pruitt with the plan of using him through five and them coming behind with the 50 pitches Hayes and Kirk had available for the night. The Bulldogs just were never in a position to apply any pressure to make that happen.

Pruitt, who was 3-0 in the playoffs, was holding his own until the third when the Greenwave put together a two-out rally to score four runs and take control of the game. Nick Pounders broke the scoreless tie with a two-run double. Cabel Mullenix followed with an RBI single and Pounders later scored on a double steal when the Bulldogs threw through on the trail runner.

“The (third) inning I couldn’t really throw my curveball for a strike,” Pruitt said. “I threw straight fastballs to them, left it up a little bit too much. All the other innings were pretty good I thought.”

“He’s not giving himself enough credit,” Deerman said. “This kid’s a sophomore and he just threw Game One of the state championship. I thought he did an excellent job on the mound. Two or three pitches he left up and they squared up, but other than that I thought he did an excellent job. A leadoff double and he works out of the first inning without giving up a run; that shows what kind of competitor he is on the mound.”

The Greenwave pushed across four more in the sixth, highlighted by Collin Herring’s two-run single, and another in the seventh. Herring and Cory Chapman each had three hits for Gordo.

“This was a bad game; we got here for a reason,” Hayes said. “We’re not going to just totally wipe the board off tonight. We’re just going to regroup and come back tomorrow and keep playing ball like we have been. It was just a rough game.

“I feel like we’re confident when I’m on the mound, when Easton’s on the mound, and we’ve got us both throwing tomorrow against their 2 and 3, so I feel like we’ve got a good shot at taking two.”

3A Game 1 Box

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