E.A. Sports Today

Falcons advance

Playoff roundup: Donoho sweeps, reaches second round for first time since 2015; Ohatchee, Weaver eliminated

Saturday’s playoff scores
Donoho 5-5, Marion County 3-0
Heritage Christian 2-9, Ragland 0-0
Spring Garden 8-14,  Lynn 0-1
Cedar Bluff 15-16, Sheffield 1-3
Sumiton Christian 5-9, Ohatchee 3-3
Lamar County at Piedmont, Monday
Saint James 7-11, Randolph County 0-0
Winfield 4-13, Weaver 2-6
Cherokee County 11-8, Lincoln 4-6
Cleburne County at Hokes Bluff, Monday
Briarwood Christian 11-14, Munford 1-0
Etowah 2-1, Jasper 0-2; Game 3, Monday
Hartselle 1-10, Oxford 0-1

By East Alabama Sports Today

Donoho baseball coach Steve Gendron says it’s fun to coach when Seth Ford and Hall Billings are dealing on the mound.

It was really fun for the Falcons Saturday.

Ford and Billings both produced brilliant complete games as the Falcons swept Marion County 5-3 and 5-0 in the Class 1A playoffs to reach the second round for the first time since 2015 — when Ford and Billings were eighth-graders on the team.

“We’re super excited about it,” Gendron said. “Any time you go on the road and sweep your opponent in the playoffs that’s a really awesome feeling. I’m really happy for our guys.”
“This is huge for the school, huge for us,” Billings said. “This is the thing Seth and I have been dreaming about since the day we got to seventh-grade ball and now it’s here. I think it’s fair to say both of us stepped up pretty big when it mattered.”

Ford gave up five hits, no earned runs, no walks and struck out 12 in the opener. He retired the last seven batters he faced and struck out the side in order in the seventh. Gendron called it “one of Seth’s better performances on the mound in his career.”
“I would say it was one my better performances,” Ford said. “I just knew it was a big game and I knew I had to try to do it for my team. I knew they had my back and I went out there and just pitched.”

Hall was just as dominant, pitching a one-hit shutout with one walk and five strikeouts. He threw 91 pitches, 62 for strikes, and got better as the game went on. The only hit he allowed was a pop fly to left in the third the fielders were late on breaking.
“He pitched phenomenally,” Ford said. “He filled up the strike zone. Even when some errors were made he kept his composure and pitched a heck of a game.”
“It was fun to watch,” Gendron said. “Easy to coach when those two guys are doing their thing on the mound.”
When both are on, Billings said, “it makes us a team nobody wants to see.”
“It gives a lot of confidence to the team,” Ford said. “I think the team believes in our pitching ability and it gives the coaches confidence. The whole team just believes in us and that’s what drivers us to do so well.”
Both excelled at the plate as well.

Billings went 2-for-3 in both games and drove in two runs in the nightcap. Ford went 2-for-3 with three RBIs in the nightcap.
The Falcons won’t know their second-round opponent until early next week. The series between Hackleburg and Athens Bible has been postponed by weather and wet grounds until Monday and may not be completed until Tuesday.
The last time the Falcons got through the first round, they beat Meek at home in their opening series, then went on the road were eliminated by Decatur Heritage. Two other current seniors were eighth-graders on that team, Reid Willamon and Jase Alderman.
“It was a special feeling back then,” Ford said. “I don’t remember that much, but it was pretty awesome. We just had a coaching change with Steve; it was very promising. It was kind of sad or heartbreaking we didn’t make it the years following and it’s pretty special to be able to do it our senior year, to be able to lead a young team to the second round.”

Game 1
Donoho           002 030 0 – 5 5 5
Marion Co.     001 020 0 – 3 5 1
WP: Seth Ford. LP: Brayden Smith. 2B: Seth Ford (D), Hall Billings (D), Reid Willamon (D), Braden Pyrom (M).
Game 2
Marion Co.     000 000 0 – 0 1 2
Donoho           001 031 x – 5 6 5
WP: Hall Billings.  LP: Braden Pyron. 2B: Hall Billings (D),  Davis Jones (D).

Sumiton Christian 5-9, Ohatchee 3-3

SUMITON — The heart of Sumiton Christian’s order – Joe Hicks, C.J. Bunn and Garrett Potts – were a combined 8-for-11 with seven RBIs and two homers in the nightcap as the Eagles completed the Class 2A series sweep.

Hicks hit a solo homer in the first inning and Bunn hit a two-run shot in the third as the Eagles opened a 6-0 lead. Ohatchee scored its first run on a wild pitch and Blake Ogle and Josh Lipham drove in runs in the sixth.
In the opener, Sumiton Christian took a 4-0 lead and held off Ohatchee’s late rally. The Indians made it 4-2 in the sixth on Ogle’s two-run single and 5-3 in the seventh on Grayson Alward’s RBI single. Alward and Baylee Graham each had two hits in the game for Ohatchee.

Game 1
Ohatchee         000 002 1 – 3 8 4
Sumiton Chr.  003 101 x – 5 5 3
WP: Jarrett McLain. LP: Larry Noah. S: Isaiah Wright. 2B: Jake Jones (S).
Game 2
Sumiton Chr.  204 300 0 – 9 11 1
Ohatchee         001 002 0 – 3 6 4
WP: Joe Hicks. LP: Grayson Alward. 2B: Devin Howell (O), Josh Lipham (O), Jarrett McLain (S). HR: C.J. Bunn (S), Joe Hicks (S).

Winfield 4-19, Weaver 2-6

WINFIELD — The Pirates held off a late Weaver rally in the opener and then erupted in the nightcap to sweep the Class 3A playoff series.

In the opener, Weaver scored two runs on a pair of two-out errors in the third inning, but the Pirates rallied with four in the bottom of the inning capped by Jackson Elkins coming all the way around on a two-run triple and error.

Weaver had two hits the rest of the way and Winfield had none. Austin Bryant and Colby Thompson held the Pirates to two hits, but they walked seven. 
In the nightcap, the Pirates opened a 6-0 lead after three innings, then with the game in hand erupted for seven runs in the seventh. Only six of their 19 runs were earned as Weaver was charged with nine errors.

The Bearcats scored three runs in the fourth and fifth innings to get within 7-3 and 9-6. Jadon Calhoun had an RBI double and Colby Thompson a two-run single in the fourth. Drake Monroe’s single, Calhoun’s bases-loaded walk and a passed ball produced their three in the fifth.

Game 1
Weaver            002 000 0 – 2 5 2
Winfield          004 000 x – 4 2 5
WP: Brody Cook. LP: Austin Bryant. 3B: Jackson Elkins (Wi).
Game 2
Winfield          042 123 7 – 19 14 0
Weaver            000 330 x – 6 8 5
WP: Ben Parrish. LP: Colby Thompson. 2B: Logan Pollard (Wi), Nolen Miles 2 (Wi), Jack Williamson (Wi), Jadon Calhoun (We). 3B: Jackson Elkins 2 (Wi).

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