E.A. Sports Today

Walk-off wonders

Jacksonville wins best game of tournament so far on Morris’ bases-loaded grounder in bottom of seventh, will play Oxford in semis

Colton Clark made what he considered his strongest start of the year, giving up two hits and striking out eight in a 2-1 complete game. He also hit a double Jacksonville’s winning rally. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

CALHOUN COUNTY TOURNAMENT

Friday’s Games
No. 12 Wellborn 15, No. 13 Anniston 2
No. 6 White Plains 7, No. 11 Donoho 2
No. 7 Ohatchee 9, No. 10 JCA 2
No. 5 Pleasant Valley 16, Wellborn 1
No. 8 Weaver 5, No. 9 Saks 4

Saturday’s Games
No. 2 Alexandria 12, Ohatchee 2
No. 4 Jacksonville 2, Pleasant Valley 1
No. 1 Oxford 8, Weaver 4
No. 3 Piedmont 9, White Plains 8

Monday’s Games
Piedmont vs. Alexandria, 4:30 p.m. (Sig)
Oxford vs. Jacksonville, 7 p.m. (Sig)

Tuesday’s Game
Championship, 6 p.m. (Sig)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — David Clark had a simple message for his Jacksonville baseball team when he brought it together before it batted in the bottom of the seventh Saturday.

“We are not going back out; we’re going to find a way right here to win the game,” the Golden Eagles coach told his players. “I knew if we could get back to our top we had a pretty good chance of winning the game.”

They didn’t go back out for the eighth, ending the best game in the Calhoun County Tournament so far on Blake Morris’ bases-loaded infield grounder to a 2-1 win over Pleasant Valley.

Brad Charping starts his slide into the plate with Jacksonville’s winning run. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

It was the first of two walk-off tournament wins on the day. Piedmont staged a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh to beat White Plains 9-8 later in the day.

The fourth-seeded Golden Eagles routed PV last Saturday to end the fifth-seeded Raiders’ season-opening five-game winning streak, but this game was nothing like that.

Jacksonville’s Colton Clark and PV’s Jackson Almaroad went pitch-for-pitch for seven innings. Runs and hits were at a premium. Clark gave up two hits, a run and struck out eight. Almaroad gave up seven hits and struck out four. The game was scoreless for the first four innings.

“It’s real fun pitching in a game like that,” Colton Clark said. “You can really show what you can do, you can be you. I love pitching in games like that, I’d much rather pitch in a game like that. We knew they were going to be better than 11-1, they’re a better team than 11-1, so I love pitching that type of game, that type of situation. It’s awesome.”

“I know he’s mine, but in this game I wouldn’t want anybody else; I know he can handle it,” David Clark said. “He felt good from the beginning. His pen was good in pregame. I told the coach if he throws it like he did in the pen he’ll have a good day. He’s played a lot of baseball. The moments aren’t too big for him. He handles the moments really well and I thought he did a great job of that tonight.”

Morris drove in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. PV tied it in the sixth on Drew Bonds’ RBI triple, but stranded the go-ahead run at third.

Colton almost ended it in the home seventh when he hit a ball to the fence in left that had too much ballpark to get out. It didn’t go out, but it did out runners at second and third with no outs.

The Raiders intentionally walked Dylan Murphy to load the bases and set up a force at home or at best a double play. They played the infield in and got the ground ball they wanted, but the speed with which Morris’ shot got to Nic Smith seemed to stun the PV second baseman momentarily and after looking toward the plate made his throw to first, which allowed Brad Charping to slide across the plate with the winning run.

“I understood why they (intentionally walked him),” Morris said, “but I just tried to step in the box, be calm and remind myself it’s just a game of baseball. I had a job I had to do and luckily I did it.”

In defense of his new second baseman PV coach Chris Youngman said the Raiders really haven’t worked on that scenario; they’ve talked about it, but not worked on it. He said it would be high on the practice agenda when the Raiders get back at it on Monday.

The Golden Eagles will now play top-seeded Oxford in Monday’s 7 p.m. semifinal on the Park’s Signature Field.

Oxford’s Reece Howard connects on one of his two doubles against Weaver. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Oxford 8, Weaver 4: Reece Howard went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and starter Brantley Bargerhuff pitched shutout baseball into the fifth inning for the Yellow Jackets.

The Jackets scored two runs in the first and broke it open with five in the third. They sent 10 batters to the plate in the big inning and did all that damage with one hit – Tate Adams’ leadoff single. There also were three walks, two hit batsmen and a run-scoring error.

Weaver cut into Oxford’s lead with four unearned runs in the seventh. Taylor Thompson had two hits for the Bearcats.

Jacksonville 2, Pleasant Valley 1
Pleasant Valley 000 001 0 – 1 2 1
Jacksonville 000 010 1 – 2 7 2

WP: Colton Clark. LP: Jackson Almaroad.
2B: Kyle Seeger (J), Colton Clark (J). 3B: Drew Bonds (PV). RBIs: Drew Bonds (PV); Blake Morris 2 (J).

Oxford 8, Weaver 4
Weaver 000 000 4 – 4 5 2
Oxford 205 010 x – 8 8 3

WP: Brantley Bargerhuff. LP: Drake Monroe.
2B: Brody Syer (O), Reece Howard 2 (O). RBIs: Reece Howard (O), Trey Higgins (O).

To see a photo gallery from today’s tournament games visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

Weaver catcher Taylor Thompson (11) puts the tag on Oxford’s Brody Syer when he finds Syer and Reece Howard occupying third base at the same time in the first inning. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

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