E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs stay unbeaten

Baseball roundup: Piedmont, Weaver sweep area doubleheaders; Donoho opens season with area win; Alexandria routs Jacksonville
Friday’s baseball scores
Alexandria 15, Jacksonville 2
Donoho 5, Faith Christian 3
Piedmont 11-11, Pleasant Valley 1-2
Weaver 17-12, Saks 5-2
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
JACKSONVILLE – It had been six days since Piedmont had been on the field let alone play a game, a veritable eternity for a baseball team used to being on the diamond every day, and Bulldogs coach Matt Deerman was a little concerned going into their area opener against the team expected to give them their biggest challenge.
All the rain that’s fallen on the area tends to limit what a team can get done until it can go outside, but the Bulldogs didn’t look too rusty Friday. The No. 1 team in Class 3A scored three runs in the first inning of each game and went on to sweep No. 10 Pleasant Valley 11-1 and 11-2 on the artificial turf at Jacksonville State.
“It’s a great start,” Deerman said. “(PV starter Jackson) Almaroad did a really good job on the mound Game 1; he made us look bad. Here’s the deal, nobody’s been able to get on the field to do a whole lot of practicing so everybody’s going to make mistakes. You’ve just got to minimize the damage when you do make mistakes and you go on to the next play.
“We wanted to put some pressure on them, put the ball in play, for that very reason because we knew nobody had had a lot of field time. I thought we did a good job early in both games taking advantage of their mistakes. Getting off to a big start in both games was the biggest difference.”
The undefeated Bulldogs (9-0) got three in the first of the opener when an infield error with bases loaded cleared the bases. PV got one of the runs back in the fourth with the only two hits they got off Bryce Mohon, but the Bulldogs got it back in the bottom of the inning. They added four in the fifth and three in the sixth to end it early.
They started the same way in the nightcap, scoring three in the first and five in the second.
“It’s just a great start in area play for us,” said first baseman Sean Smith, who drove in four runs in the doubleheader, including a long two-run triple in the first inning of the nightcap. “It’s always good to start area play with two wins. You can’t really start it too much better than that. And the way we played today, everybody on the field had something to contribute to the two wins.”
Jack Hayes went 4-for-7 in the doubleheader. Austin Estes had three hits, Brant Deerman went 3-for-6 with five runs and Mohon had two hits and three RBIs.
Mohon pitched a complete-game two-hitter with eight strikeouts in the opener. The Bulldogs were going to start Brant Deerman in Game 2, but since Mohon was still warm and had thrown just 70 pitches in facing only three over the minimum assistant coach Mike Deerman suggested handing the ball to their ace to open the nightcap 
Mohon could have thrown 125 pitches on the day, but the Deermans gave him a 25-pitch leash in the second start. The senior righthander threw 17 pitches in the first inning and had an 8-0 lead when Brant Deerman went to the mound in the bottom of the second.
“It was a good philosophy because we’ve got a lot of games in the next week,” Matt Deerman said. “We didn’t want (Mohon) going over 100 today, that’s kind of what I had in mind with him on the mound. When we got through that first game and he was sitting at 70 we thought we could go 20-25 more on the front end with him.”
Mohon’s curve was particularly effective and his fastball had a lot of life to it. After PV’s second hit in the opener, Mohon retired six of the last batters he faced with one ball leaving the infield and picked off the one runner he did allow.
“It was really important (to pitch well in the opener),” he said. “You’ve gotta go 100 percent.”
In addition to being the area opener for both teams the doubleheader also was a potential preview of the semifinals in the Calhoun County Tournament. Piedmont is seeded No. 1 in the tournament, while PV is seeded fourth. If the seeds hold through Monday, the teams would meet on this field again in Tuesday’s semifinals. 

Pleasant Valley   000 100 – 1 2 0
Piedmont             300 143 – 11 9 2
WP: Bryce Mohon. LP: Jackson Almaroad.
Piedmont              351 010 1 – 11 10 1
Pleasant Valley   002 000 0 – 2 6 4
WP: Bryce Mohon. LP: Brody Phillips.
Weaver 17-12, Saks 5-2: Devin Anderson went 3-for-4 with five RBIs in the opener and homered with three RBIs in the nightcap as Weaver scored its first two wins of the season in an explosive doubleheader sweep of its area opener.
The Bearcats (2-3), who scored only eight runs in their first three games, scored in every inning of the two five-inning games and collected 29 hits. They had 12 extra-base hits.
Anderson was 5-for-7 with three doubles, a solo homer and eight RBIs in the doubleheader. Elijah Smith was 5-for-7 and Austin Bryant was 4-for-6 with three RBIs.
In the opener, Jackson Williams went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and Ethan Moncus was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
“We just knew we were a little better at the plate than our last few outings have shown,” Weaver coach Jamie Harper said. “Keep together tonight, in that way hopefully we will continue to get better.”
The Bearcats return to action Saturday 4:30 p.m. in their Calhoun County Tournament opener against Anniston at Pleasant Valley. Saks also plays its County Tournament opener Saturday against Wellborn, 7 p.m., on the Signature Field at Choccolocco Park.
Weaver   343 61 – 17 16 0
Saks         002 21 – 5 5 1
WP: Elijah Smith. LP: Hunter McLeod.      
Weaver   234 21 – 12 13 0
Saks         101 00 – 2 4 1
WP: Austin Bryant. LP: Mason Jairrels. HR: Devin Anderson (W).
Donoho 5, Faith Christian 3: Sophomore right-hander Slade Haney returned to the high school diamond for the first time in two years and pitched six solid innings as the Falcons opened their season with an area victory.
Pitching one day shy of the one-year anniversary of his surgery to remove a tumor from his right hip, Haney threw 90 pitches (67 for strikes), gave up four hits, walked one and struck out 12. He put the first two batters on he faced on six straight balls, hitting the first batter he faced since 2018 in the head, then struck out the side 
“It was good to have him back, good to have him on the mound,” Falcons coach Steve Gendron said. “I think it’s fantastic to have him back on the team, back on the mound, and I think we’re all looking forward to him having a great year.”
The Falcons, the last Calhoun County team to open their season, scored three runs in their first inning of the year. Reid Willamon drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly, Jase Alderman doubled home the second run and Payne Golden singled home the third. Golden was 3-for-4 in the game.
Faith tied it with Brodie Dotson’s RBI single in the second and back-to-back homers by Colton Pahman and Andrew Folsom in the third. Haney then retired the next seven straight Lions he faced in a row and 11 of his last 12 before being lifted in the seventh.
The Falcons won it in the dark with single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Willamon singled home the go-ahead run in the sixth and Tyler Allen plated an insurance run in the seventh with a sacrifice fly.
The Lions had the winning run at the plate with two outs, but Willamon finished off the seventh inning with a strikeout to get the save.
“A lot of teams in the county have been struggling to get on the field to hit and do all those things,” Gendron said. “I think our guys were a little bit rusty, but our seniors and my only junior, Blake Willingham, did a lot of good stuff tonight.”
The series continues with a potential doubleheader at Donoho Saturday morning. If Faith wins the 11 a.m. opener, Donoho will be forced to play three games in the day as the Falcons’ are scheduled to play area rival JCA in their Calhoun County Tournament opener at 6:30 p.m. at Pleasant Valley.
“It’ll be a challenge, but we’ve got 14- through 18-year-old kids who are young and full of energy,” Gendron said. “We’ve only played one game; the more the merrier. Playing three in one day will give a bunch of guys an opportunity to play … We’ve just told them to get ready for a long fun day.”
Donoho                300 001 1 – 5 10 1
Faith Christian   012 000 0 – 3 4 4
WP: Slade Haney. LP: Brodie Dotson. HR: Colton Pahman (F), Andrew Folsom (A).
Alexandria 15, Jacksonville 2: Cade Shaddix continues to yield a hot bat, going 3-for-4 with five RBIs and Mitch Welch homered as the Valley Cubs erupted for 14 hits. Welch was 2-for-3. Austin West, Dylan DiGangi and Ben McNew also had two hits in the game. DiGangi pitched the first two innings and got out after 26 pitches and a big lead for the win.
Shaddix had a two-run single in the first, a two-run double in the third and single home the Cubs’ final run in the fourth. Welch hit a three-run homer in the third.

In his last five games Shaddix is 7-for-13 with 11 RBIs. He’s batting .375 for the season.

The Cubs (6-3) are well into this soggy baseball season and any other year head coach Andy Shaw would have a pretty good in-season beard working by now. But he arrived for Sunday’s county tournament seeding meeting as clean-shaven as a June groom. What gives? “Coronavirus,” he said.

It’s a different look, for sure.
Jacksonville          011 00 — 2 5 2
Alexandria            536 1x – 15 14 1
WP: Dylan DiGangi. LP: Coleman Oliver. HR: Mitch Welch (A).

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