E.A. Sports Today

Falcons, Indians soaring, but so is anxiety

Donoho erupts for two 20-run games, 4-0 in area; Ohatchee sweeps, Alexandria, White Plains, Piedmont, PV all win; coaches anxious about the future

Thursday’s baseball scores
Alexandria 13, Cleburne County 4
Donoho 21-20, Jacksonville Christian 0-5
Ohatchee 15-13, Gaston 0-0
Piedmont 13, Saks 1
Pleasant Valley 6, Wellborn 1
White Plains 4, Lincoln 3

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
JACKSONVILLE – The Donoho baseball team continued to light up the scoreboard Thursday, sweeping an area doubleheader from Jacksonville Christian 21-0 and 20-5, but how long it will be before the lights go out is anybody’s guess.
It was the Falcons’ second area sweep of the season, putting them in a good position for any playoff contingency in the event the state suspends play due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also avenged a wild 18-16 loss to the Thunder in a long first night of the Calhoun County Tournament.
“I told the guys we’re 4-0 in the area and we’re excited to be that way,” Donoho coach Steve Gendron said. “I don’t know what’s going on. I think every two hours something new is occurring or canceled. I think every coach is just waiting, refreshing Twitter all the time to see what’s going on. It’s just a crazy time right now.”
Slade Haney pitched a two-hit shutout in the five-inning first game with 12 strikeouts and hit a grand slam for the final four runs of the game. Jarrett Kilgore had both of JCA’s hits in the game.
Haney had five RBIs in the game. Blake Willingham went 3-for-5, Payne Golden had three RBIs and Reid Willamon, Tyler Allen and Judson Billings drove in two runs apiece.
The Falcons took control of the first game with nine in the first inning. The Falcons sent 14 batters to the plate and their first 11 reached safely. Seven batters in a row drove in runs.
Donoho broke open a close nightcap with 13 runs in the fourth inning. Payne Golden went 4-for-4 with four RBIs in the game. Jase Alderman and Billings drove in three runs apiece. Golden was 5-for-7 in the doubleheader. Billings was 5-for-8.
Nash Messer and Brady Shaddix both had two hits for JCA in the nightcap.
The Falcons (4-1) have scored 69 runs in their last four games.
“It is a lot of runs,” Gendron said. “I hadn’t really thought about it, to be honest with you, but it’s pretty cool.
“I knew going into the year that we were going to be a good hitting team. All five of our seniors can hit and our lone junior is killing the ball right now. “
JCA          000 00 – 0 2 7
Donoho  908 4x – 21 12 0
WP: Slade Haney. LP: Kobe Messer. 2B: Judson Billings 2 (D), Blake Willingham 2 (D), Edwin Connell (D). HR: Slade Haney (D).
Donoho  230 (13)2 – 20 14 3
JCA          120 02 – 5 7 1
WP: Blake Willingham. LP: Kobe Messer. 2B: Judson Billings (D), Edwin Connell (D), Lucas Elliot (D), Nash Messer (J).
Ohatchee 15-13, Gaston 0-0: The Indians opened their area schedule with a doubleheader sweep behind a pair of one-hitters.
Blake Ogle pitched three perfect innings with six strikeouts before giving way to Bryce Noah in the opener. Freshman Jacob Roberts had a perfect game for 4 1/3 innings before losing the gem to a one-out double in the fifth and then nearing his pitch limit was relieved by seventh-grader Carson Tittle.
“We pitched well,” Ohatchee coach Blake Jennings said. “The kids did what they needed to do to win a ballgame. They made the routine plays, struck out a lot of guys. They did what they were asked to do.”
Trey Pesnell and Blake Hollis drove in four runs apiece from the bottom two spots in the order in the opener. Pesnell went 3-for-3 with an RBI double and bases-loaded triple. Hollis was 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles. 
The Indians broke open the nightcap with a nine-run second inning. Ogle and Cade Williamson had back-to-back RBI doubles in the inning. Ogle had two hits and three RBIs in the game.
Like many of his coaching counterparts Jennings is taking a wait-and-see approach to the looming coronavirus threat that, given the events of the day around the nation, could be a matter of hours away from impacting high school sports. A disruption would come at a tough time for the Indians, who are 7-1 in their last eight games.
“This is one of the most favorite teams I’ve ever had,” Jennings said. “It’s a good team, great teammates, they’re having fun and getting better every game.
“I know sports in this country pretty much run this country and when major-league baseball, the NBA, NCAA and all the schools canceled it’s going to trickle down at some point. The only thing that gives me hope, there’s not a kid between the age of 0-12 whose had it and less than two percent across the world of under-18s and that’s who we’re with.
“It’s going to be a bummer (if it happens) and if it happens I’ll hate it for my seniors. I hope it doesn’t. We’re going to keep our fingers crossed.”

Gaston  000 00 – 0 1 2
Ohatchee  753 0x – 15 13 0
WP: Blake Ogle. LP: Josh Campbell. 2B: Josh Campbell (G), Konnor Baswell (O), Trey Pesnell (O), Blake Hollis 2 (O), Brancen Champion (O). 3B: Trey Pesnell (O).
Gaston   000 00 – 0 1 8
Ohatchee  391 0x – 13 11 0
WP: Jacob Roberts. LP: Tanner Humphrey. 2B: Josh Campbell (G), Konnor Baswell (O), Cade Williamson (O), William Jenkins (O), Blake Ogle (O).
Alexandria 13, Cleburne County 4: Mitch Welch drove in four runs with four hits and Dylan DiGangi gave up three hits in five innings as the Valley Cubs bounced back from a tough loss in the Calhoun County Tournament championship game.
Welch went 4-for-5 with two of the Valley Cubs’ five doubles. Austin West was 2-for-4 with three runs. Courtesy runner Adam Young also scored three runs.
DiGangi pitched the first five innings, giving up three singles, an earned run and striking out seven. Cleburne County’s Austin Benefield hit a two-run homer off reliever Cade Shaddix in the sixth. 
White Plains 4, Lincoln 3: Senior right-hander Hayden Williams got off to a slow start on the mound, but shut the door after a rough first inning and pitched a complete game in a surprise start for the Wildcats.
Williams wasn’t expected to pitch Thursday, but not because he cut his non-throwing arm on a collision at third base early in the Wildcats’ county tournament opener against Faith Christian. He gave up three runs in the first inning on 35 pitches, but didn’t give up another hit and allowed only five more base runners over 72 pitches the rest of the game.
“We needed a guy to throw today,” Wildcats coach Wes Henderson said. “He said he wanted the ball. I was confident in him. We threw him out there and he struggled in the first, but we let him work though it and he found the strike zone. I think he just settled in.”
The Wildcats took a 4-3 lead with two runs in the fifth inning. Carson Wright scored the tying run when the Golden Bears misplayed Williams’ sacrifice attempt and courtesy runner Walker O’Steen scored the go-ahead run on Jaden Chatman’s line single to center.
“We’re preaching resiliency and responding because we hadn’t responded to that much at all,” Henderson said. “I thought we made a turn in the county tournament. Tonight, we just battled and battled.
“We always tell them you need to get out there and play like it’s the last time you play the game, then this week when everything started happening it literally could be the last time. We talked about it yesterday. We were going to Lincoln just thankful for being on the field, but this could literally be the last thing we ever do together.”
White Plains       100 120 0 – 4 3 2
Lincoln                 300 000 0 – 3 2 8
WP: Hayden Williams. LP: Dalton Popham. 
Piedmont 13, Saks 1: The undefeated Bulldogs (14-0) didn’t miss a beat in their first game after winning their first Calhoun County Tournament title. Jack Hayes got the win on the mound. Silas Thompson went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and pitched two innings of no-hit relief. County tournament MVP Bryce Mohon had two hits and two RBIs.

Piedmont  451 003 — 13 11 3
Saks   001 000 — 1 3 3
WP: Jack Hayes. LP: Mason McLeod. 2B: Sean Young (P), Silas Thompson (P), Bryce Mohon 2 (P), Noah Reedy (P).

Pleasant Valley 6, Wellborn 1: The Raiders snapped a six-game losing streak with an important area victory. Jackson Almaroad pitched a complete game.

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