E.A. Sports Today

Playoff clinchers

PV stages huge two-out rally in seventh to earn a playoff spot, Oxford clinches area title on McCullough’s two-out seventh-inning hit

Oxford’s Brennan McCullough (10) is out at third in the first inning of Thursday’s doubleheader against Pell City. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Clay Central 13-4, Talladega 3-3
Cleburne County 10, Lincoln 2
Handley 15, Anniston 0
Jacksonville 5-15, White Plains 2-5
Munford 7-9, Saks 3-1
Oxford 2-4, Pell City 1-2
Piedmont 15, Ohatchee 12
Pleasant Valley 2-8, Glencoe 5-6
Weaver 16, Wellborn 9

By East Alabama Sports Today

GLENCOE – Pleasant Valley’s season literally was down to its last two strikes Thursday night, but as they always seems to do, the Raiders found a way to rally and now are going to the playoffs.

PV scored four runs in the seventh – all with two outs – and beat Glencoe 8-6 in the series tiebreaker to claim a playoff berth for the third year in a row, this time the second playoff spot from Class 3A Area 10.

Things looked bleak for the Raiders (14-10), who had to win the nightcap of the doubleheader after losing the first game 5-2 to even the series. They trailed 6-0 after four innings.

They still trailed 6-4 going into the seventh and had their situation go critical after the first two batters were retired. Brody Phillips then fell behind in his count 0-1 before singling to get the rally started. Triston Salster and Ashton King followed with singles and loaded the bases. Nic Smith drew a walk and cut the margin to 6-5.

Reagan King then followed with a shot through short. Ashton King provided a distraction on the basepaths and the ball went through for a double that scored all three runners, with Smith beating the throw to the plate.

“It didn’t look good but they believe in what they were and who they were,” PV coach Chris Youngman said. “We just kept fighting and we found a way. We put the ball in play and … finally caught a break. We were about due and caught a couple breaks in that last inning. Everybody just hustled and it worked out in the end.

“We always tell our guys just believe in what you’re doing. If you believe and go to work and control the things you can control, things work out. In my mind (facing the last out) I’m hoping we just believe in that and the guys did that. They showed tonight as a team we stick together and put things behind us and keep going.”

Reagan King went 3-for-4 with five RBIs. Caden Turner had two hits, as did Salster and Smith. Drew Bonds returned to the mound after the Raiders took the lead and set the Yellow Jackets down after a leadoff single.

After completing their regular season early next week, the Raiders will travel to Locust Fork to open the Class 3A playoffs.

“We want to get to the playoffs because we feel like we’re a playoff team and feel we can really be productive and do some new things at Pleasant Valley with our group of guys,” Youngman said. “They’ve been coming together as a team, which you need at the end of the season.”

Oxford 2-4, Pell City 1-2: Brennan McCullough’s single up the middle with two outs in the seventh inning chased home the winning run in the opener that clinched Oxford the Class 6A Area 13 title. The Yellow Jackets will host a first-round series in the Class 6A playoffs.

“It was exciting because it’s my senior year and it’s to win the area championship,” McCullough said.

Hayden Green led off the inning being hit with a pitch. Brantley Bargerhuff dropped a bunt single, but was erased on Reece Howard’s fielder’s choice that put runners at the corners and prompted a pitching change.

Curiously, Pell City passed on a chance for new pitcher Jackson Sweatt to intentionally walk McCullough to load the bases and set up a force at any base. Instead, McCullough delivered the game-winning hit against his workout partner at Excel Baseball.

“I was hoping they wouldn’t (walk me),” McCullough said. “That’s what you dream about: Senior year and area championship, game’s on the line, against Pell City. It’s kind of what you practice in the cage.”

The hit made a winner of Jarin Turner, who pitched a complete-game four-hitter with five strikeouts.

The nightcap was just as close. McCullough’s RBI single in the third snapped a 1-1 tie and the Jackets never trailed again. Caden Higgins went 3-for-3 for the Jackets, while Carson Lindsey and winning pitcher Green each had two hits.

“It was a typical Oxford-Pell City area championship game,” Jackets coach Wes Brooks said. “I think the biggest difference is the way our guys went out in the whole series. We talk about hope versus expectation a lot … and I thought the whole series we expected to win the series. I thought the way we carried ourselves and our expectation was to go out here and take care of business.”

Jacksonville 5-15, White Plains 2-5: The Golden Eagles scored four runs in the first inning, held White Plains to two hits, and won the first game to eliminate the Wildcats from Class 4A playoff contention. Josh Glass singled home the first run, two more scored on an error and another scored on an infield out. The Wildcats made it 4-2 in the third, but got no closer.

It was all Golden Eagles in the nightcap. They scored three in the first, highlighted by Brandon Breeding’s two-run double, then erupted for seven in the second. Noah Elder hit a two-run homer for White Plains in the fourth.

Piedmont 15, Ohatchee 12: Mason Mohon’s three-run homer highlighted a seven-run fifth inning that erased an 8-4 deficit and put the Bulldogs in front for good. Piedmont sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning.

Jack Hayes went 3-for-3 and Bailey Graves had three RBIs for the Bulldogs. Kevin Williamson went 2-for-3 with five RBIs for Ohatchee, while Baylee Graham went 3-for-3 and Larry Noah and Blake Buckelew each had two hits. Larry Noah hit a two-run homer in the first and Williamson had a two-run homer in the fourth and three-run double in the seventh for Ohatchee.

Weaver 17, Wellborn 9: Drake Monroe hit a grand slam and Taylor Thompson (three RBIs) and Colby Thompson each had three hits to lead Weaver. Austin McQueen hit a two-run homer for Wellborn.

Cleburne County 10, Lincoln 2: Jordan Brown went 3-for-5 with five RBIs and two Tigers pitchers held Lincoln to four singles. Brown had a two-run single in the first, an RBI ground out in the third and RBI singles in the sixth and seventh.

Here are first-round AHSAA baseball playoff matchups (featuring Calhoun County teams)
Class 1A: Donoho at Southeastern
Class 3A: Carbon Hill at Ohatchee
Class 3A: Weaver at Oakman
Class 3A: J.B. Pennington at Piedmont
Class 3A: Pleasant Valley at Locust Fork
Class 6A: TBD at Oxford

Oxford first baseman Brennan McCullough tries to slap a tag on Pell City’s Canaan Garrett as he dives back into first base. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

To see a photo gallery from the Pell City-Oxford game, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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