E.A. Sports Today

Keep battling

Wellborn finds a way to win intense battle with Weaver in area opener; Hayes a hero for Piedmont; Donoho wins again 

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
WEAVER – It was just their first area game of the season, but when Wellborn shortstop Jett Smith raced across the bag with the final out Wednesday night the Panthers celebrated like they had just won the area championship.
Freshman catcher Brayden Dempsey drove an 0-2 pitch past shortstop Ethan Moncus with bases loaded that scored two runs in the seventh inning and then two Wellborn pitchers got through the bottom as the Panthers came from behind to edge Weaver 6-5.
“I’m so proud of y’all,” Wellborn coach Nick Burns told his players after rejoining them after a sixth-inning ejection. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to sleep tonight.”
This game had everything. There were late-game lead changes in which each team came from behind to take a lead. There were plays at the plate. There was the aforementioned ejection.
If this was any indication of what’s in store for Class 3A Area 9, it’s in for a wild ride.
The Panthers (2-2) scored three in the fourth inning without the benefit of a hit and led 4-2 after their bats in the sixth. Weaver took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the inning with two runs scoring when the Panthers misplayed Jadon Calhoun’s fly ball in centerfield.
Pinch-runner Devin Anderson scored easily on the play. It appeared Taylor Thompson missed the plate trying to sidestep Dempsey’s tag, a fact the Wellborn catcher substantiated after the game. Dempsey tagged Thompson on the grass behind the plate, but the runner was ruled safe tying the game 4-4. Burns was ejected for arguing the play and watched the rest of the game from beyond the fence, leaving assistant J.D. Phillips to call the shots.
The Bearcats took a 5-4 lead moments later when Calhoun raced home on Austin Bryant’s ground out to the right side of the infield.
Wellborn set the stage for Dempsey’s seventh-inning heroics by loading the bases with an error, fielder’s choice and dropped third strike. Dempsey fell behind curve-balling reliever Colby Thompson 0-2, then sent a ball under Moncus’ glove to chase the go-ahead runs home.
“I was nervous at first when it came … but I just handled the bat and hit it,” Dempsey said. “We’ll have a lot of confidence now.”
The Panthers started the bottom seventh with a team prayer on the mound. They got through it after Weaver got two on after two outs.
They celebrated coming off the field and then mobbed Burns after he made his way back onto the field.
“I told you last weekend they don’t quit,” Burns said. “Good teams finish. We’ve been writing that ‘finish’ word for two years. Good teams overcome obstacles.
“Those kids are so intense, they’ve worked so hard, that when they win a game they’re just overjoyed. They love to win; they hate to lose. Every game is a big game to us. I’m real proud of them. I probably won’t sleep. I’ll think about this one for a while.”
Weaver coach Jamie Harper might as well, but not too long. The teams play a doubleheader Thursday at Wellborn.
“Not to take anything away from Wellborn,” Harper began. “They competed really well, they did what they had to do to scratch and claw, make runs, make plays in the field they had (but) we didn’t play well tonight. It’s just really uncharacteristic. I know we hadn’t played a lot of games, we just didn’t play well. I just hope our kids respond and come back with a similar fire and fight tomorrow, because that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to fight and claw and scratch our way back into this thing.”
Wellborn 6, Weaver 5
Wellborn              000 301 2 – 6 5 1
Weaver                  000 203 0 – 5 7 7
WP: Wyatt. LP: C. Thompson. S: Beadles.

Piedmont-J’ville Act II

Piedmont 5, Jacksonville 4
Piedmont’s Jack Hayes went 3-for-3 with a sacrifice and got the final two outs in a bases-loaded jam for his first career save in the return game of the home-and-home series. Bryce Walter singled home Piedmont’s tying run in the fourth and the Bulldogs’ go-ahead run scored on an error in the fifth. It was the Bulldogs’ fifth win in a row.

Piedmont 101 111 0 – 5 10 3
Jacksonville 102 000 1 – 4 5 7
WP: Mohon. LP: Charping. S: Hayes. 2B: Hayes (P).

Donoho wins again

Donoho 14, Gaylesville 3
Seth Ford was one of three Donoho hitters with three hits and drove in five runs. Hall Billings and Jase Alderman also had three hits for the Falcons (2-0). Sophomore pitchers Blake Willingham and Charlie Willamon held Gaylesville to five hits and struck out nine.

Gaylesville 101 010 – 3 5 4
Donoho 300 542 – 14 12 1 
WP: Willingham. LP: Whatley. 2B: Alderman (D), Ford (D) 2, Billings (D) 2.

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