E.A. Sports Today


Alexandria lefthander Borders, Etowah southpaw Hotalen go toe-to-toe in series opener
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
The crowd that gathered at Byrd Welch Field Tuesday expected to see a pitcher’s duel and they definitely got their money’s worth.
Alexandria lefthander Jalen Borders and Etowah southpaw Will Hotalen went strikeout-for-strikeout all game, but in the end Etowah was just a little sharper overall and scored a 3-2 victory in the area opener for both teams.
“It was what I expected it to be,” Valley Cubs coach Andy Shaw said. “Borders did another great job tonight, gives us a chance to win. We were a little jittery at first and that brought his pitch count up early so that hurt us a little bit, but our kids settled in and played hard.
“Their guy was good on the mound, just like ours is. You’ve got to play seven against a good team in a good area. Comes down in these games to who makes the most mistakes and they got us on that.” 

Hotalen went the whole game, threw 105 pitches, allowed three hits, two runs (one earned), walked two and struck out 10. Borders pitched into the sixth, threw 124 pitches, allowed three hits, three runs (one earned), walked six and struck out 11.
“I actually thought their guy got better as the game went on,” Etowah coach Brandon Johnson said. “I thought he had great command of the strike zone and made a lot of big-time pitches when he had to. And our guy … he was great tonight. He had great command of his breaking stuff and that made his fastball better. He was dynamic.”

As strong as they were, both pitchers hit a rough patch in the game; it’s just that Borders’ came early.

The Belmont signee gave up the three hits and three runs in the first two innings, but he didn’t give up another hit after that and struck out seven before reaching his pitch count after walking two in the sixth. Two of the hits he allowed were infield hits.
The Blue Devils loaded the bases on Borders in the first on an infield single, a bobbled ball in the infield and a four-pitch walk. They got the run home on a grounder to short.
The top of their order produced two more runs in the second after Borders fanned the first two batters. Daniel Sieber and Hotalen delivered RBI singles, but the Valley Cubs avoided further damage when Cade Shaddix cut down Sieber at the plate for the final out of the inning.
“Early on was rough, but I thought I got stronger as the game went,” Borders said. “We got all the jitters out after the first two innings it just wasn’t enough I guess.”
Hotalen’s rough patch came later. He gave up two runs in the fifth with one scoring on a balk and the other racing home on a wild pitch. Until then, he had given up only one hit – a single by Borders in the second inning – and allowed two base runners. 
“I let it get to my head when I shouldn’t,” he said. “I should’ve stayed tall up there and not let it affect me and I let it affect me and it showed.”
Etowah 3, Alexandria 2
Etowah           120 000 0 – 3 4 0
Alexandria     000 020 0 – 2 3 0
WP: Will Hotalen. LP: Jalen Borders. 

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