E.A. Sports Today

‘Cash’ on the money

Piedmont freshman Fairs gets early call, puts out fire, gets rewarded with first varsity win
Friday’s games
Cherokee County 10, North Jackson 6
Cherokee County vs. Cleburne County
Piedmont 5, North Jackson 2
Choccolocco Park Spring Break Experience
Vestavia Hills 12, Ariton 0
Mountain Brook 18, Ariton 4
Vestavia Hills vs. Lauderdale County
By East Alabama Sports Today
Cassius Fairs was sitting in his usual spot in the dugout, down near the bat rack, gearing up for an expected call to the bullpen late in the game when Piedmont coach Matt Deerman called down to him in the first inning to get ready.
Fairs was scheduled for a middle relief stint Friday against North Jackson, but starter Austin Estes had suddenly lost the plate after two quick outs and the Bulldogs needed help getting out of the inning.
After a couple quick throws in the bullpen, the freshman right-hander entered the game with the bases loaded and got it back under control. He wound up pitching 3 2/3 innings of two-hit relief and was in the game when the Bulldogs erupted for four runs in the fourth inning to beat the North Jackson 5-2 and give Fairs his first varsity win.
He also had a leadoff single in the third inning.
“Cash had a really good day today,” Deerman said. “We had three guys on the pitching docket today and he was middle relief. He wasn’t expected to throw that much, but he went in there and got the job done. For him to go out there against that competition, that was good for him.”
Fairs figured he’d be going out in the fourth and fifth and maybe finishing up, but he wound up going in earlier than ever and throwing 58 pitches in his longest of his five varsity appearances this season.
He gave up a run in the third inning, walked three and hit three. He got out of that first inning with an infield grounder. He got out of a bases-loaded jam of his own making in the third and eventually was lifted for saver Sean Smith after loading the bases and “things getting hectic at the end” in the fifth.
His previous longest varsity outing was 1-1/3 to his 25-pitch limit against Holtville on Wednesday. He has won all four of his appearances with the junior varsity.
“I felt like I threw better than what I usually have been throwing,” Fairs said. “My arm had been bothering me all week, but I just felt like I was throwing strikes today.
“Our third baseman Logan (Pruitt) – he’s a good pitcher and a person I look up to – he told me when I got up there to just throw strikes and make them contact hit and let the defense work behind me. That’s what he stresses, not trying to do too much.”
The Bulldogs rewarded him with four runs in the fourth. They loaded the bases with two walks and birthday boy Bruce Walter’s bunt single. Nick Johnson singled home the tying run, a walk to Pruitt forced in the go-ahead run, Walter stole home on the catcher’s soft throwback to the pitcher and Brant Deerman singled home a run.
The coaches tossed Fairs the game ball for his performance, and he has the perfect place for it at home. He’ll put it with the ones from his three no-hitters, right next to his old glove, the glove his father used to use when he played.
He anticipates that collection growing in the years to come.
“A ninth grader getting my first win means I should be throwing a good bit throughout my career,” he said.
Cherokee County 10, North Jackson 6: Caden Hubbard’s two-run double highlighted a five-run third inning that gave Cherokee County the lead, but the Warriors had to survive a wild seventh to secure the victory. Hubbard had four RBIs in the game. Connor Wilson (3-for-4) and Carson Garrett (2-for-2) both had a pair of RBIs.
North Jackson 001 000 1 – 2 3 2
Piedmont          000 401 x – 5 6 1
WP: Cassius Fairs. LP: Carter Gass. Sv: Sean Smith. 2B: Carter Gass (NJ), Nick Johnson (P).
Cherokee County      105 103 0 – 10 12 5
North Jackson            110 000 4 – 6 5 0        
WP: Ethan Tillery. LP: Henniger. Sv: Ethan Johnson. 2B: Caden Hubbard (CC), Ethan Johnson (CC), Connor Wilson (CC).

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