E.A. Sports Today

Cubs on to finals

Alexandria erupts for eight runs in first inning, takes out Piedmont in county semifinals

Piedmont’s Davis Young (11) reaches around to tag out Alexandria’s Nate McCallum at third base, but not before McCallum’s bases-loaded grounder cleared the bases. On the cover, Jalen Borders gave the Valley Cubs a complete game to save their pitching staff for Tuesday’s title game. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Alexandria’s Nate McCallum is one of those players who just always seems to be in the middle of the action.

The Valley Cubs sophomore outfielder gave his team the lead in its County Tournament opener against Ohatchee on Saturday and ended the game with a run-rule walk-off single.

On Monday, he tied the game in a big first inning and then chased home three runs with an infield grounder in the fourth to set the stage for a 13-3, five-inning win over Piedmont in the semifinals.

The second-seeded Valley Cubs (5-5) will play top-seeded Oxford (8-3) in Tuesday’s 6 p.m. title game on the Signature Field at Choccolocco Park.

“Coach (Andy Shaw) always tells us to put it in play and let them play the game of baseball and see if they can make a big play,” McCallum said. “I just put it in play and see what they can do with it. I’m just trying to be consistent, just like coach Shaw told us.”

The Valley Cubs put it in play a lot in the first inning, jumping on Piedmont for eight runs. They sent 13 batters to the plate after the Bulldogs (3-5) got one in the top of the inning.

McCallum tied the game with a bases-loaded fielder’s choice grounder to short, then the Cubs took the lead by scoring two on a two-out fly ball off the bat of Jalen Borders that Piedmont misplayed in the outfield.

After RBI singles by Ryan Taylor and Seth Slaton at the bottom of the lineup Noah Primm delivered a two-run single to make it 7-1.

“We had some good approaches at the plate,” Shaw said.

McCallum delivered again in the fourth when he came up with bases loaded and hit a ball to short that rolled up the infielder’s arm and into short center field. All three runners scored making it 11-1 and putting the Cubs in position for another run-rule tournament win.

“He’s always in the middle of stuff,” Borders said. “He doesn’t like to be in the show, but he’s an unknown star.”

Borders went the distance for the win, making all the Valley Cubs’ other pitchers available for the title game. He walked one and struck out five, prompting coach Andy Shaw to say he’s “right on time” for his area showdown with Etowah.

“I felt more confident on the mound,” Borders said. “The fastball was hitting good and the off-speed was working better today. It was very important (to go the distance). We’ve got a lot of guys who can go tomorrow to try to beat Oxford and win it.”

Alexandria 13, Piedmont 3
Piedmont 100 02 – 3 7 6
Alexandria 800 32 – 13 8 2

WP: Jalen Borders. LP: Davis Young.
RBIs – Alexandria: Noah Primm 2, Mitch Welch 2, Nate McCallum, Ryan Taylor, Seth Slaton.

Alexandria’s Noah Primm slides into third base while Piedmont’s Brant Deerman awaits a throw. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

To see a photo gallery from both semifinal games, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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