E.A. Sports Today

Donoho’s Comeback Kid

Falcons’ Haney back on the field, appreciates every opportunity to play again; includes regular-season results from around the county
Saturday’s baseball scores
Alexandria 3, Gadsden City 2
Donoho 12, Faith Christian 9
Ohatchee 11, West End 10
Piedmont 18, Pleasant Valley 2
Saks 15, Weaver 14
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
If there ever were such a thing as Comeback Player of the Year in Calhoun County baseball, Slade Haney certainly is off to the kind of start that would make him the heavy early favorite.
The Donoho sophomore returned to the diamond for the first time in two years Friday and pitched six solid innings as the Falcons opened their season with a 5-3 area victory over Faith Christian. He was back in the lineup Saturday – the one-year anniversary of a second surgery to remove a tumor from his right hip – and this time delivered three hits as the Falcons completed the series sweep with a come-from-ahead 12-9 victory.
“I’m very thankful,” Haney said. “There was a great chance I’d never play this again. God just got me through it. He healed me.
“I’m glad to be back out here and help the team and play for the team. This is the sport I love. I love this school and I want us to do good.”
The Falcons are glad he’s back, too, but there were at least two times over the last 12 months he thought his athletics career was over. The first was the surgery on his hip to remove a tumor that had grown into the head of the femur. Then, just when it appeared everything was back to normal, he broke his right leg five weeks into football season.
“When (the doctor) came back I thought he was going to say no more sports ever,” Haney said. “I broke my leg five weeks in and I thought I’m done now. After about a month of rehab he cleared me again and said go have at it, buddy.”
Falcons coach Steve Gendron said it was “fantastic” to have Haney back on the team and on the mound and “we’re all looking forward to him having a great year.”

Teammate Jase Alderman called him “definitely a huge addition to the team” and an “all-around good teammate to have.”
Now that he’s back on the field, Haney relishes every opportunity to play.
“It drives me to do the best I can to know it was almost taken away from me forever,” he said. “So while I can I need to do the best that I can, the most that I can, just to spend it all up in case it ever happens again.”
As the Opening Day starter, it was the first time he’d pitched for the Falcons since April 2018, although he had thrown as recently as the summer travel ball season. He threw 90 pitches against the Lions (67 for strikes), allowed 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 in the head, then struck out the side.
“I was shocked that I could keep it consistently that sharp for so long,” he said. “I was a little nervous at first, but I was so thankful for the opportunity. I calmed down, relaxed and was able to get the job done.”
In Saturday’s game, he played center field. He doubled in the second and scored on Blake Willingham’s two-run single, singled in the third and delivered an RBI single in the five-run sixth-inning rally that gave the Falcons the victory. They were his first hits of the year.
The Falcons opened a 6-0 lead after three innings, but trailed 8-7 going to the bottom of the sixth. They batted around in the inning to retake the lead. In consecutive at-bats, Reid Willamon doubled home the tying run, Jase Alderman singled home the go-ahead run and Payne Golden doubled home an insurance run. Winning pitcher Judson Billings and Haney singled home the other two runs in the inning.
Starting pitcher Blake Willingham had a two-run single and Willamon a two-run double in the four-run second that put Donoho ahead 5-0. Willingham took a no-hitter into the fourth inning before Faith erupted for five runs to get back in it.
Faith       000 530 1 – 9 9 0
Donoho  141 105 x – 12 15 4
WP: Judson Billings. LP: Colton Pahman.
Click this link to read the original East Alabama Sports Today story about how Haney’s leg injury led him to excel in swimming: https://www.easportstoday.com/2017/11/22/making-a-splash/
Piedmont 18, Pleasant Valley 2: The top-ranked Bulldogs broke open a close game with a nine-run fourth inning and completed a three-game series sweep to remain undefeated (10-0).
They already were leading 4-1 when they sent 14 batters to the plate in the fourth. The first six all reached base and scored. 
Bryce Mohon went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, highlighted by a three-run double in the fifth. Brant Deermaan drove in two runs, and Silas Thompson and Max Hanson both had two hits. The Bulldogs scored 40 runs and pounded 30 hits.
“I don’t want to say too much, jinx it a little bit, but I think we’ve got a good bunch of guys right here and we can go all the way,” Mohon said after Friday’s doubleheader sweep.
Piedmont              121 95 – 18 11 4
Pleasant Valley   100 01 – 2 4 6
WP: Jack Hayes. LP: Colby Nelson.
Alexandria 3, Gadsden City 2: Landon Comer allowed one hit over five innings, left with a 3-0 lead and Mitch Welch pitched a shutdown seventh after the Titans closed the gap.
The only hit Comer allowed was a second-inning single. It was the only base runner he allowed in his outing. The Titans reached reliever David Wright for two in the sixth to make it 3-2, then Welch put them down in order in the seventh on 11 pitches.
The Cubs broke a scoreless tie with two in the fourth. Jacob McCulley scored the first run when the Titans misplayed Comer’s bunt and the second scored on an infield out. Dylan DiGangi’s RBI double in the fifth gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
Gadsden City       000 002 0 – 2 4 2
Alexandria           000 210 x – 3 3 0
WP: Landon Comer. LP: Kyle Kline.
Saks 15, Weaver 14: The Wildcats sent 13 batters to the plate in the seventh inning and scored seven runs to salvage the getaway game in the area series.
Connor Martin had a two-run single in the big inning. Two runs scored in the inning on a pair of hit batsmen and three more scored on bases-loaded walks.
Weaver grabbed a 13-8 lead with six in the home sixth. Devin Anderson doubled home the first run with a double that tied the game 8-8. Ethan Moncus immediately followed with a two-run single.
Trent Hopkins went 3-for-5 for the Bearcats. Rickey Garrett, Taylor Fields, Hunter McLeod, Martin and Zach Waters all had two RBIs. Taylor Thompson went 3-for-5 for Weaver, while Moncus and Anderson each had a pair of hits.
Saks         200 240 7 – 15 8 8
Weaver 101 326 1 – 14 9 4
Ohatchee 11, West End 10: The Indians shook the rust off a week inside and rallied from a 10-4 deficit to win. Blake Hollis and Blake Ogle both drove home runs in the sixth inning to complete the Indians’ comeback.
West End scored eight in the third inning to take the lead. The Indians got two back in the third, three in the fourth to close within 9-8 and then took the lead in the sixth.
Hollis went 3-for-3, Konnor Baswell went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and Cade Williamson and Trey Pesnell each had two hits.
After the Patriots’ big inning, Baswell and Ogle, the winning pitcher, combined for 4½ innings of scoreless relief, allowing two hits apiece. Ogle was credited with the victory.
West End               118 000 0 – 10 9 2
Ohatchee               042 302 x – 11 10 4
WP: Blake Ogle. LP: Pearce.

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