E.A. Sports Today

Bailey bounces back

Piedmont’s Graves bounces back from rough outing, fires five-inning one-hitter at Donoho; Calhoun County baseball roundup

Alexandria 11, Southside 7
Cherokee County 4, Jacksonville 1
Hokes Bluff 7, White Plains 1
Ohatchee 11, Pleasant Valley 5
Piedmont 11, Donoho 1
Saks 13, Wellborn 8
Weaver 11, Ragland 8

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

After his last outing Bailey Graves couldn’t wait to get back out on the mound.

Graves was the starter among five Piedmont pitchers who got roughed up in a football-score-like loss to Hokes Bluff right before the Calhoun County Tournament.

He returned to the mound Thursday and looked like the pitcher who handcuffed Cherokee County, pitching a five-inning one-hitter to restore his confidence right before the start of area play in the Bulldogs’ 11-1 victory at Donoho.

“I just had to shake it off my shoulder and throw strikes again,” Graves said. “It gave me confidence to know I can be consistent.”

The only hit Graves allowed was Jase Alderman’s one-out single in the fourth inning. He struck out seven and walked two. He threw 64 pitches, 44 for strikes, and what the right-hander called a “pretty solid” complete game helped the Bulldogs save some of their other arms for the three remaining games they have this week.

“He got off to a slow start with that leadoff walk, but he did a good job getting himself loose,” Piedmont coach Matt Deerman said. “Once he got himself loose he got ahead in the count and that allowed him to throw the pitch he wanted to throw. He struggled a little bit the last time he was on the mound. He got his confidence back going into area play.”

Graves and Donoho starter Hall Billings were locked in a pretty good pitching duel for three innings. The game was tied 1-1 through three, but with that’s all Billings went and Piedmont broke it open with six runs in the fourth. Davis Young had a two-run single and Taylor Morrow a two-run double in the inning. T.J. Fairs and Nick Johnson singled home the other runs in the inning.

Piedmont opened the scoring in the first when Fairs doubled and eventually stole home. Donoho tied it in the bottom of the inning when Billings walked, went all the way to third on Brady Goodson’s bunt and scored on Seth Ford’s sacrifice fly.

It has been an eventful week for Donoho. The Falcons made a bit of history in their program earlier this week when they played the first JV/junior high game in school history Wednesday, a 14-4 win over Winterboro.

“It’s encouraging because it gives the seventh- and eighth-graders an opportunity to play against talent that they can hang with,” Falcons coach Steve Gendron said. “When we rely on them on the varsity level it’s a challenge every game, so it was fun to watch them have their own game in their own element. It was fun watching them play where I knew they had a chance to compete.”

The 1A Falcons simply never had enough players to make a developmental squad and Gendron wasn’t sure it would happen this year until he opened things for signups and evaluations. He’s hoping next year to have a full schedule and a coach just for that team.

“Any time you can have a JV team it’s always encouraging because baseball is a game about reps and when you’re on the varsity level you’re seventh and eighth graders will sit the bench the majority of the time,” Gendron said. “But junior high, JV level, whatever you want to call it, they definitely get a lot more at bats in game situations.”

Piedmont 100 64 – 11 12 0
Donoho 100 00 – 1 1 3

WP: Bailey Graves. LP: Seth Ford.
2B: Mason Mohon (P), Logan Pruitt (P), Taylor Morrow (P), T.J. Fairs (P), Bailey Graves (P), Brant Deerman (P). RBIs – Piedmont: Taylor Morrow 2, T.J. Fairs 2, Nick Johnson, Davis Young 2, Logan Pruitt 2, Bailey Graves; Donoho: Seth Ford.

Saks 13, Wellborn 9: Jaylen Childs went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, including an RBI single in the decisive five-run seventh, and then struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to save the victory.

The Wildcats trailed 9-8 going into the seventh. Eley Downes hit the go-ahead two-run triple, Childs followed with his RBI single and two more scored on an error. Wellborn leadoff hitter Jett Smith opened the home seventh by reaching on an error, then Childs fanned the next three hitters to close the game.

Cody Hopkins also had three hits for the Wildcats (4-4). Caleb Ogle continue to yield a hot bat, going 5-for-5 with four RBIs. Harley Burgess and Downes both had two hits.

The Wildcats returns home Friday to play Ohatchee (3:30 p.m.) and Montgomery Catholic (6:30). The nightcap makes a homecoming of sorts for Montgomery Catholic assistant coach Tony Hudson. He played at Saks along with Alexandria coach Andy Shaw on the state runner-up team of the mid-80s. The Knights will play Alexandria on Saturday.

Saks 003 104 5 – 13 16 3
Wellborn 104 022 0 – 9 6 3

WP: Hunter McLeod.

Hokes Bluff 7, White Plains 1: The Eagles opened up area play by pulling away from a 1-1 tie with six runs in their final three bats. They broke the tie with sacrifice flies by Drake Rainey and Westin Ball in the fourth inning.

Houston Edwards went 3-for-4 for the Eagles and Carson Eubanks, Jace Stewart and Landon Johnson each had two hits. Dylan Teague threw a complete game, scattering seven hits and striking out six, for the win.

White Plains grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on Andrew Cronan’s leadoff triple and Braxton Dopson’s two-out RBI double, but the Eagles tied the game in the second on an outfield error. Matthew Clay had two hits for the Wildcats.

White Plains 100 000 0 – 1 7 3
Hokes Bluff 010 213 x – 7 11 0

WP: Dylan Teague. LP: Andrew Cronan.
2B: Braxton Dopson (WP); Landon Johnson (HB), Carson Eubanks (HB), Jace Stewart (HB). 3B: Andrew Cronan (WP). RBIs – White Plains: Braxton Dopson; Hokes Bluff: Westin Ball, Jace Stewart, Houston Edwards, Landon Johnson 2, Drake Rainey.

Cherokee County 4, Jacksonville 1: Pitcher Ethan Johnson hit a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to give the Warriors some breathing room in their area opener. Johnson and Ian Edwards both had two hits for the Warriors.

Johnson and Jacksonville’s Blake Morris hooked up in a good pitcher’s duel. Johnson held the Golden Eagles to three hits, an unearned run and struck out 13. The Warriors got only five hits off Morris.

Jacksonville took a 1-0 lead in the first on a two-out error. Cherokee County took the lead in the fourth on Jayleon Henderson’s sacrifice fly and Ethan Tillery’s squeeze bunt.

Cherokee County 000 200 2 – 4 5 3
Jacksonville 100 000 0 – 1 3 1

WP: Ethan Johnson. LP: Blake Morris.
HR: Ethan Johnson (CC). RBIs – Cherokee County: Ethan Johnson 2, Jayleon Henderson, Ethan Tillery.

Alexandria 11, Southside 7: Noah Primm had two hits and four RBIs and Mitch Welch hit a two-run homer for the Valley Cubs (6-6). Alexandria opened an 8-0 lead and held on. Dylan DiGangi got the win.

Ohatchee 11, Pleasant Valley 5: The Indians fell behind 4-2 after three errors in the second inning, but rallied for eight runs in the fifth inning to win. Leadoff man Baylee Graham was 4-for-4 and Larry Noah went 3-for-4; both had two RBIs.

“We have been letting things snowball on us this year; we got over that hump today,” Ohatchee coach Blake Jennings said. “We bounced back and played well the rest of the game.”

Pleasant Valley 040 000 1 – 5 10 3
Ohatchee 200 180 x – 11 13 4

WP: Larry Noah. LP: Brody Phillips.
2B: Kevin Williamson (O), Baylee Graham (O). RBIs – Pleasant Valley: Reagan King, Caden Turner; Ohatchee: Baylee Graham 2, Kevin Williamson 2, Larry Noah 2, Ben Glass 2, Blake Buckelew.

Weaver 11, Ragland 8: Colby Thompson pitched four innings of shutout relief and the Bearcats rallied from an 8-5 deficit to make him a winner.

Thompson came on after Noah Hollingsworth’s leadoff homer in the fourth gave the Purple Devils an 8-5 lead. He gave up two hits the rest of the game and struck out five. He walked the first batter he faced, but then retired seven in a row while the Bearcats rallied to give him the lead.

Taylor Thompson’s two-run single tied the game in the fifth and Austin Bryant put the Bearcats ahead for good with an RBI single. Bryant and Dylan Deloach had RBI doubles in the seventh.

Taylor Thompson had two hits and four RBIs, while Bryant and Ethan Moncus each had two hits and two RBIs for Weaver. Briley Phillips and Hollingsworth both had three hits for Ragland.

Weaver 410 040 2 – 11 9 5
Ragland 304 100 0 – 8 9 3

WP: Colby Thompson. LP: Seth Welborn.
2B: Taylor Thompson (W), Ethan Moncus (W), Austin Bryant (W), Dylan Deloach 2 (W). HR: Noah Hollingsworth (R). RBIs – Ragland: Noah Hollingsworth, Coby Fuller 2, Evan Buckner, Briley Phillips 2.

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