E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs split

Piedmont wins opener over Lauderdale County 10-2, drops nightcap 10-3; teams play at 11 a.m. Saturday; Spring Garden also splits in 1A

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT — The atmosphere around the Piedmont dugout was a little more subdued at the end of the night than it was following the opener, but the Bulldogs remain confident as they head into the game that will determine the rest of their season.

Piedmont split the doubleheader in its Class 3A state quarterfinals playoff series with Lauderdale County Friday, forcing a winner-take-all Game 3 Saturday at 11 a.m.

The Bulldogs won the opener 10-2 behind four hits from seventh-grade catcher Jack Hayes, but Lauderdale County bounced back in the nightcap 10-3 despite two homers by Piedmont senior Taylor Morrow.

Bailey Graves will go to the mound Saturday for the Bulldogs (23-11). The winner will play Locust Fork in next week’s state semifinals series.

“I like the situation we’re in as far as pitching,” Piedmont coach Matt Deerman said. “I feel like we’ve got four guys we can go with. I feel good about the guys we have on the mound.”

Both teams bounced back from early 2-0 deficits in their victories.

In the opener, Hayes broke out of a slump and went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and guided Logan Pruitt to his ninth win from behind the plate.

The 14-year-old brother of former multi-sport Piedmont star Taylor Hayes shook a 1-for-16 slump that led to Deerman DH’ing for him in most second games with four singles. He drove in runs in the third and a five-run sixth.

“I hadn’t been hitting so well lately; that was probably my best game hitting all year,” Hayes said. “It was in a crucial spot in a third-round playoff game and it’s good to come back and start hitting well.”

“He has been struggling a little bit, but, shoot, he came out of his shell that game,” Deerman said. “I gotta keep him in the lineup now.”

Hayes was behind the plate in Game 2, batting eighth. He reached base in his first plate appearance on s grounder to third that was bobbled and thrown away.

The Bulldogs rallied from a balky 2-0 deficit with three runs in the home second and continued to add to their lead. In addition to Hayes, Morrow went 3-for-5, Mason Mohon went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Brant Deerman was 2-for-3.

After the tough start, which was more defensively induced than anything, Pruitt faced only one batter over the minimum over the next four innings. He struck out seven in the game.

The Tigers loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, at which time Pruitt reached his 120-pitch limit. Deerman brought in Morrow, who signed with West Georgia on Thursday, and Morrow got the last out without incident.

“He came back good,” Hayes said. “He quit leaving stuff up and threw his fastball and curveball good and we made plays in the field and that’s what we had to do to win.”

“Jack’s been good for me all year long,” Pruitt said. “He has some seventh-grade moments, but he’s been good all year.”

In the nightcap, Morrow gave Piedmont a 2-0 lead with solo homers leading off the first and third innings. But Lauderdale County went ahead with three in the third and added three in each of the next two innings.

Piedmont starter Mohon gave up only six hits in the nightcap, but the Bulldogs committed five errors behind him leading to five unearned runs.

“We knew coming in they are a team that feeds off mistakes; they make you pay for a mistake,” Deerman said. “We gave them too many runs. You don’t ever want to have to look up there and see almost double the amount of runs as you see hits, but that’s kind of what we got in that game.”

Garden grinds out split

SPRING GARDEN – The Spring Garden Panthers are developing a flair for the dramatic in the Class 1A state playoffs.

Last weekend at Marion County, they won the second game in their final at-bat to propel them back home for this weekend’s third round against third-ranked Athens Bible.

After losing Friday’s first game 5-3, Spring Garden rallied from a three-run deficit in the top of the seventh inning, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring four runs to take a 5-4 lead. The Trojans tied the game with a run in the bottom of the seventh, but the Panthers pushed two more runs across in the top of the eighth on a solo home run by catcher Luke Welsh and a RBI-single by Riley Austin and held on for a 7-5 victory.

The teams play the deciding third game Saturday at noon.

“I guess we want the fans to get their $8 worth,” Spring Garden coach Barrett Ragsdale said. “They’ve definitely got it for two weeks in a row. Our kids just fought.” – Shannon Fagan

AHSAA Baseball Quarterfinals

CLASS 1A
Millry (21-12) 16-9, Sumiton Christian (23-12) 1-5 (Millry (21-12) wins series 2-0)
Sweet Water (25-9) 4-7, Ragland (23-6) 2-5 (Sweet Water (25-9) wins series 2-0)
Athens Bible (21-11) 5-5, Spring Garden (23-8) 3-7 (Game 3, Sat., noon)
Hackleburg (2S8-9) 5-5, South Lamar (18-8) 8-4 (Game 3, Sat., 1 p,m.)

CLASS 2A
G.W. Long (27-11) 4-9, J.U. Blacksher (22-11) 0-0 (G.W. Long (27-11) wins series 2-0)
St. Luke’s Episcopal (20-11) 15-14, Ariton (22-10) 2-2 (St. Luke’s Episcopal (20-11) wins series 2-0)
Westbrook Christian (27-8) 6-3, Mars Hill Bible (27-10) 5-9, (Game 3, Sat., noon)
Thorsby (26-4) 2-9, Falkville (26-10) 0-4 (Thorsby (26-5) wins series 2-0)

CLASS 3A
Gordo (30-3) 9-8, Wicksburg (22-11) 8-5 (Gordo (30-3) wins series 2-0)
Mobile Christian (25-9) 8-11, American Christian (19-17) 1-3 (Mobile Christian (25-9) wins series 2-0)
Lauderdale County (19-14-1) 2-10, Piedmont (23-11) 10-3 (Game 3, Sat., 11 a.m.)
Locust Fork (21-15) 7-3, West Morgan (23-13) 2-1 (Locust Fork (21-15) wins series 2-0)

CLASS 4A
Bibb County (25-11) 11-8, Dale County (17-15) -2-1 (Bibb County (25-11) wins series 2-0)
Andalusia (26-4) 13-4, Holtville (25-8) 4-0 (Andalusia (26-4) wins series 2-0)
Hokes Bluff (25-5) 4-8, Wilson (26-8) 2-2 (Hokes Bluff (25-5) wins series 2-0)
Oneonta (23-10) 12-10, Sardis (18-17) 2-2 (Oneonta (23-10) wins series 2-0)

CLASS 5A
Calera (26-8) 3-0, St. Paul’s Episcopal (27-9) 1-3, Mobile (Game 3, Sat., 1 p.m.)
Faith Academy (32-3) 11-8, Sylacauga (25-9) 0-3 (Faith Academy (32-3) wins series 2-0)
Springville (23-12) 19-7, Russellville (27-14), (Game 3, Sat., 2 p.m.)
Mortimer Jordan (31-12) 5-5, Brooks (22-16) 3-4 (Mortimer Jordan (31-13) wins series 2-0)

CLASS 6A
Helena (24-13) 9-6, Spanish Fort (28-10) 3-0 (Helena (24-3) wins series 2-0)
Russell County (39-4) 0-5, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (25-11) 1-4 (Game 3, Sat., noon)
Cullman (32-8) 8-6, Homewood (29-11) 1-1 (Cullman (32-8) wins series 2-0)
Hazel Green (28-10) 5-6, Hueytown 30-10) 4-0 (Hazel Green (28-10) wins series 2-0)

CLASS 7A
Alma Bryant (25-10) 3-4, Smiths Station (25-17) 2-10 (Game 3, Sat., noon)
Auburn (30-7) 2-11, Theodore (24-12) 8-2 (Game 3, Sat., noon)
Hewitt-Trussville (30-9) 11-6, James Clemens (26-17-1) 6-0 (Hewitt-Trussville wins series 2-0)
Bob Jones (36-12) 15-11, Huntsville (24-15) 7-3 (Bob Jones (36-12) wins series 2-0)

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