E.A. Sports Today

Playoff openers

Hazel Green scores in bottom of seventh to force Game 3 with Oxford; Piedmont sweeps, PV splits, Donoho, Weaver swept

(Calhoun County teams)
Ohatchee 8-9, Carbon Hill 2-7
Piedmont 11-18, JB Pennington 1-12
Oxford 15-2, Hazel Green 1-3 (Game 3, Saturday, 1 p.m.)
Pleasant Valley 5-4, Locust Fork 8-2 (Game 3, Saturday, 2 p.m.)
Oakman 8-6, Weaver 0-2
Southeastern 2-15, Donoho 1-2

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – The Oxford Yellow Jackets came so close to a sweep of Hazel Green in the first round of the Class 6A baseball playoffs Friday night at Choccolocco Park.

They won the first game 15-1, and tied the second game in the top of the seventh, but Hazel Green pushed across the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh to win 3-2 and force Game 3 at 1 p.m. Saturday at The Big House.

The Jackets (25-9) appeared to have all the momentum in the seventh inning of Game 2, having scored two runs and getting runners to second and third with nobody out. A pop fly to first and two strikeouts failed to get any runs home and the Trojans (23-10) won it with their sacrifice fly to force a Game 3 at 1 p.m. Saturday at Choccolocco Park.

“We’ve got an opportunity to play another game,” Oxford coach Wes Brooks said. “We earned that opportunity in Game 1. We’ve got an opportunity to play another day regardless of what happened tonight and we are looking forward to it.”

To see a photo gallery from the doubleheader, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

Game One

A six-run third inning broke open a tight game. Brantley Bargerhuff, Reese Howard and Brennan McCullough all had run-scoring singles in the inning and Brody Syer drew a bases loaded walk.

The Jackets offense continued to roll in the third inning as they pounded out nine hits to score eight more runs.

Oxford got on the board first on a bases-loaded grounder to second by Reese Howard. The Jackets got the run without the benefit of a hit as Trojans starter Jordan Beck could not find the plate and issued four walks before being taken off the mound.

Howard led the offensive attack with three hits and four RBIs. Caden Higgins, McCullough, Jarin Turner, Trey Higgins, Carson Lindsey and Bargerhuff all had two.

Syer got the win on the mound as he went 4 2/3 innings allowing just two hits, but issued seven walks. However, with two men on base in the game, Syer retired all eight batters he faced to get out of the respective innings with little damage done.

“I did not realize that I did that well with runners on base,” said Syer. “I just try to bear down and focus on my basics.”

After Syer walked two batters in the fifth, freshman Trey Mooney was called from the bullpen and retired the final two outs.

Game Two

This one was a pitcher’s dual. Trojans lefty Tyler Duskin was throwing blazing fastballs, while Oxford was countering with crafty right-hander Turner.

Hazel Green was the home team and they scraped two together two runs in the fourth inning on an infield single that scored a run and when Oxford third baseman Tate Adams’ throw was wide of first the other run came scampering home.

Duskin was perfect through four innings and got a double play to get out of a fifth-inning jam. He struck out the side in the sixth inning and appeared to be on his way to a one-hit shutout.

But the Jackets would not give in. Howard led off the seventh with a walk and McCullough slapped a single to put two runners on with no one out. Duskin was pulled for Hunter McGriff from the bullpen.

McGriff promptly walked Adams to load the bases. Caden Higgins lined a base hit to center scoring Howard. A wild pitch scored McCullough from third as he just stuck his hand on the plate with a head first slide to get the tying run.

This left the Jackets with runners on second and third with nobody out, but they unable to get any more runs across.

Hazel Green used a lead-off single and a sacrifice bunt to start the bottom of the seventh. Greg Gustason’s sacrifice fly to left brought home McGriff with the winning run to tie the series.

Game One
Hazel Green 001 00 – 1 2 1
Oxford 016 8x – 15 15 0

WP: Syer. LP: Beck. 2B: Howard (O), T. Higgins (O).

Game Two
Oxford 000 000 2 – 2 4 2
Hazel Green 000 200 1 – 3 4 0

WP: McGriff. LP: Turner.

Piedmont pounds Pennington

PIEDMONT – The Piedmont baseball team has been wielding some pretty heavy bats since spring break and those bats played a big role in the Bulldogs’ Class 3A playoff sweep of J.B. Pennington.

The Bulldogs pounded 28 hits in sweeping Tigers 11-1 and 18-12. They will travel to Oakman next week for the second round.

“We’ve been hitting it really well since spring break,” Piedmont coach Matt Deerman said. “Our bats really have come alive and that’s kept us in a lot of game. We hadn’t played great defensively, but our bats have kept us in every game it’s in.”

The Bulldogs were hot right from the start. They scored three in the first inning of the opener on an RBI single by Mason Mohon and a two-run single by Brant Deerman and added four in the second. In the nightcap, they opened a 9-5 lead after four innings and then took control with a seven-run fifth.

Taylor Morrow went 3-for-4 in the opener, while Mohon, Nick Johnson and Deerman had two hits apiece. Bailey Graves and Deerman both went 3-for-5 with four RBIs in the nightcap, while Sean Smith went 3-for-4 and Morrow and T.J. Fairs both had two hits.

As a team, the Bulldogs hit .431 (28-for-65) in the doubleheader with eight extra-base hits and scored in every inning but two.

“I feel like 1 through 9 at some point in time all those guys had some really good at-bats,” Deerman said. “That’s the difference in this year’s team. We’ve had some holes in our lineup the past couple years, especially towards the bottom, but I really feel at any point in time anybody who plays can make something big happen.”

It was a particularly big night for Deerman. The Bulldogs’ second baseman went 5-for-8 in the doubleheader with six RBIs. He hit a three-run homer in the third inning of the nightcap.

“Brant struggled terribly offensively and defensively early in the year,” Deerman said. “He had a whole lot of pressure on him – playing for a new team, playing for his daddy, playing for his uncle, a new school, the expectations were out the roof for him and it was tough on him.

“He finally got settled in and playing a position defensively he’s more comfortable with. He’s been a totally different player since the second half of the season. He hit it as hard tonight every at-bat as he has all year long. It looked like he was seeing beach balls up there.”

Game One
Pennington 010 00 – 1 5 6
Piedmont 341 21 – 11 12 1

WP: Pruitt. LP: Jl. Bullard. 2B: Fairs (Pd).

Game Two
Piedmont 034 270 2 – 18 16 2
Pennington 003 230 4 – 12 7 10

WP: Mohon. LP: Williams. 2B: Graves (Pd) 2, Morrow (Pd), Chasteen (Pd), Smith (Pd) 2. HRs: Deerman (Pd).

Phillips ‘lights out’ to keep Raiders alive

LOCUST FORK – Brody Phillips pitched “lights out” into the seventh inning and Pleasant Valley took advantage of its opportunities in the nightcap to beat Locust Fork 4-2 and salvage a split of its playoff series doubleheader, forcing a decisive Game 3 Saturday at 2 p.m. Locust Fork won the opener 8-5.

Phillips pitched the first 6 1/3, allowing two singles and striking out 11 before giving way to Drew Bonds for the final two outs. After giving up a two-out single in the first, Phillips retired 13 straight batters. He struck out the side in the second and fifth innings.

“He was absolutely dealing; he was lights out,” PV coach Chris Youngman said. “That’s the most mentally focused I’ve seen him all year. He stepped up and was big time for us.”

The game was scoreless through three innings. The Raiders jumped out front with Triston Salster’s RBI double in the fourth, then added three more in the fifth on Bonds’ two-run single and an RBI single by Salster.

It stayed that way until the seventh when Locust Fork scored twice, but Bonds came in and put out the fire.

In the first game, the Raiders answered Locust Fork’s five-run fourth with four in the fifth, but the Hornets pulled back ahead with three in the bottom of the inning. Reagan King had three hits for PV in the game.

Youngman said the Raiders are likely to go with Bonds and Colby Nelson to start the game and then “go with the gut after that.” Above all, he said, the Raiders have to get the bats going.

“We feel like we’re a good enough team that we deserve to move on and we feel like we have a great opportunity ahead of us; we even know the next opponent,” he said. “We told our guys they were looking at a second round against Ohatchee at home. That’s big, but we’ve got to take care of tomorrow first. Before we can look at the future, we have an opportunity to play another game and prove we belong to be here.”

Game One
Pleasant Valley 000 040 1 – 5 7 1
Locust Fork 000 530 x – 8 15 4

WP: Washburn. LP: Almaroad. 2B: Rogers (LF), Washburn (LF), Dyar (LF), Cox 2 (LF), McDaniel (LF).

Game Two
Locust Fork 000 000 2 – 2 2 0
Pleasant Valley 000 130 x – 4 9 0

WP: Phillips. LP: Cox. 2B: Salster (PV).

Oakman silences Bearcats’ bats

OAKMAN – C.J. Hall held Weaver to four singles in an 8-0 shutout in the opener and then Oakman rallied from an early two-run deficit to win the nightcap 6-2, ending the Bearcats’ first playoff appearance in 12 years.

Oakman took control of the opener with a five-run third inning. Weaver grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third inning of Game Two on Jackson Williams’ two-run single into left field, but the Wildcats took the lead with three in the fifth and extended it with three in the sixth.

Game One
Weaver 000 000 0 – 0 4 2
Oakman 005 012 x – 8 9 0

WP: Hall. LP: Calhoun. 2B: Bridges (O).

Game Two
Oakman 000 033 0 – 6 7 0
Weaver 002 000 0 – 2 3 0

WP: Thompson. LP: Bryant. 2B: Tittle (O).

Falcons fall on the road

REMLAP – Hall Billings pitched brilliantly, but errors in the field and on the bases cost Donoho in the opener and two big innings late hurt the Falcons in the nightcap as they fell to Southeastern in the Class 1A playoffs 2-1 and 15-2.

Billings allowed only three singles and struck out 10 in six innings. Southeastern scored twice in the first with the help of four errors. The Falcons scored their only run of the game in the seventh inning on a wild pitch, but had a biggest threat crushed in the fifth when they had a runner thrown out at the plate and another picked off at third.

Donoho answered Southeastern’s four in the first inning of the nightcap with two on separate passed balls in the bottom of the inning. It stayed that way until the Mustangs erupted for five in the fifth and six in the sixth. Billings had all three Donoho hits in the game, going 3-for-3.

Game One
Donoho 000 000 1 – 1 5 6
Southeastern 200 000 x – 2 3 2

WP: Boak. LP: H. Billings. 2B: J. Billings (D). 3B: H. Billings (D)

Game Two
Southeastern 400 056 – 15 9 1
Donoho 200 000 – 2 3 5

WP: Mann. LP: Ford. 2B: Wadsworth 2 (S), Boak (S), Hathorn (S). 3B: Boak (S)

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