E.A. Sports Today

Borders delivers

Pitcher’s walk-off hit caps Valley Cubs’ three-run rally in home seventh, sends them to play Oxford in county finals

Alexandria’s Cade Shaddix (24) starts celebrating as he hits home plate after Jalen Borders’ game-winning hit (cover) in the bottom of the seventh. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Jalen Borders is expected to win games for Alexandria with his arm. Monday night he won one — a big one — with his bat.

The senior pitcher ripped a bases-loaded single off the body of Piedmont pitcher Mason Mohon with two outs in the seventh to cap a three-run rally that gave the Valley Cubs a 4-3 win, sending them back to the finals of the Calhoun County Tournament.

“This team battles, man,” Borders said. “We don’t ever give up.”

The Cubs play top-seeded Oxford Tuesday night at 6 p.m. The Cubs last won the title in 2015; Oxford has won the last three.

“We needed that,” Alexandria coach Andy Shaw said. “We talk about at bats getting better as the game goes on and they did a great job … You’re supposed to be better at the last of the game and they did it. Our kids did it.”

The game had been a battle of fundamentally sound teams for six innings. Piedmont scored two in the top of seventh on Logan Pruitt’s RBI single and Mohon’s bases-loaded walk on a payoff pitch to take a 3-1 lead.

Tanner Mize, playing left field for injured Connor Norris, the man he replaced Saturday, got the Valley Cubs’ rally with a single from the 9 spot in the order. Piedmont coach Matt Deerman thought if the Bulldogs could have gotten that out the outcome might have been different.

The Valley Cubs tied it 3-3 on Brennan Brown’s bases-loaded two-run single. They reloaded the bases when Mitch Welch took a hard pitch in the ribs, bringing Borders to the plate.

Borders only had one hit in 16 at-bats this season when his spot came up in the seventh, but Shaw didn’t want to pinch-hit for him since the starting first baseman already had been out of the game once and would have had to come out for good and Shaw wanted his ace to finish the game in the mound.

As it is, the Belmont signee is projected to get the ball for the Cubs in the championship game.

Just wanting to put the ball in play and force Piedmont to make a mistake Borders ripped a pitch off either Mohon’s glove or leg and it caromed far enough away for Cade Shaddix to race home from third with the winning run.

“I hadn’t been real confident these last few games, my batting average was real low, I hadn’t been squaring anything up,” Borders said. “I just went to see the first pitch and that’s what I hit.

“I squared it up pretty good, but I don’t think it was the hardest ball I ever hit.”

Deerman was certain it would have been the third out without the deflection because the Bulldogs were playing up the middle.

“I thought we had the right guy in the right situation,” he said. “We were having to throw guys out there and watch pitch counts because we have an area game Wednesday. We’d have liked to have ridden (starter) Bryce (Walter) a little bit longer and seen how far he could do, but the guy who came in behind him is solid. I felt like we had the right guy in the right situation, the ball fell their way.”

By delivering the game-winning hit Borders also gave himself the win. He got the final out of the Piedmont seventh, throwing just nine pitches to three batters in relief of starter Landon Comer.

The play of the game came in the fifth when Walter, the home run hero in Piedmont’s win over White Plains, ran down Layton Ellison’s tailing liner into the sun in left field and turned it into a double play as Noah Primm was halfway to third when Walter flagged it down. It kept the game tied at 1.

“That was a good catch,” said Brown, Alexandria’s center fielder. “I don’t even think I could have made that catch in my dreams. That was a really good catch.”
The Valley Cubs scored first when Ellison rode home on Shaddix’ single to right that skipped off the wet grass and then off right-fielder Solomon Doss’ glove. The Bulldogs tied it in the fifth when Walter scored on Austin Estes’ fielder’s choice the Cubs argued could’ve been a double play due to the lead runner’s hard pop-up slide.
Alexandria 4, Piedmont 3
Piedmont         000 010 2 – 3 7 1
Alexandria      001 000 3 – 4 8 2
WP: Jalen Borders. LP: Mason Mohon. 2B: T.J. Fairs (P).

Alexandria’s Brennan Brown (5) tied the game with a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

To see more photos from the game visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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