E.A. Sports Today

Shutting ’em down

Freshman Allen, in first varsity start, and senior Wright hold red-hot Piedmont to one hit in 5-1 Alexandria victory

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Alexandria coach Andy Shaw handed the ball to freshman Andrew Allen Wednesday to face one of the top teams in the county. The assignment came with an express set of instructions.

Throw strikes and be confident.

Allen had an abundance of both and pitched like a seasoned veteran in the first varsity start of his career. The right-hander held Piedmont to one hit and struck out seven over the first four innings and shared a combined one-hitter with senior left-hander Wesley Wright in a 5-1 Valley Cubs victory. 

“I wasn’t nervous at all; I always go out there with confidence,” Allen said. “You’re never going to do good if you can’t go out there with a goal. I feel like I executed well and I feel like the team behind me did very well.”

The loss snapped Piedmont’s 19-game winning streak and was the Bulldogs’ first since Game 3 of the May 2019 Class 3A state championship series. They were 15-0 last year and had just won their first-ever Calhoun County Baseball Tournament title when the state suspended spring sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bulldogs returned with a vengeance. They came into the game batting .400 as a team and scored 29 runs in their first four games. Noah Reedy, their 3-hole hitter and Wednesday’s starting pitcher, was 11-for-14 and reached base in each of his last nine plate appearances with eight hits and a walk.

The only hit they got against the Valley Cubs was Austin Estes’ opposite-field RBI single off Allen in the third inning. Reedy was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and a walk.

Allen threw 68 pitches, 40 for strikes. He walked one, hit a batter and one reached base on an error. He retired the side in order in the second and fourth, both the same way – going through 5-6-7 with a fly to right followed by two strikeouts.

He struck out two in three of his four innings and got another to end the third with runners on second and third after the Bulldogs tied the game. He got the Bulldogs with his fastball the first time through the lineup, then mixed his pitches the second time through with a curve that was working “pretty good.”

“I thought their guy threw a heck of a game,” Piedmont coach Matt Deerman said. “We didn’t hit but four ground balls and put any pressure on them. Pop flies and backwards Ks killed us. I thought that kid (Allen) competed and we didn’t compete. They were fouling balls off with two strikes and we were watching balls with two strikes. You can’t win a ballgame if you don’t put pressure on teams.

“I love playing Alexandria early in the year because no matter what kind of teams they’ve got you know you’re always going to be exposed by things you’re doing poorly and they did that again today.”

Allen made his varsity debut last Thursday and was sharp then, too. He threw 3 1/3 innings of no-hit relief with seven strikeouts in a no-decision against Jacksonville.

“We thought Andrew in the fall would come pitch for us and we’re just kind of bringing him along slowly,” Shaw said. “We are filled up with young guys. They should all be playing freshman baseball right now, but they’re having to play (on the varsity). That’s just the way it is right now.”

The Cubs gave their young starter a 1-0 lead in the first on Jake Upton’s sacrifice fly. It was the first earned run the Bulldogs had given up since the seventh inning of their season opener.

They gave Allen the lead for good in the fourth and extended it for Wright in the fifth, playing small ball in both innings. Seth Johnson squeezed home DeShaun Foster with the go-ahead run in the fourth, then the Cubs scored two insurance runs in the fifth on an RBI infield single by Upton and Canyon Mickler’s sacrifice fly.

“I thought our guys competed real well today,” Shaw said. “We threw strikes and for the most part made the plays. I liked the way we battled at the plate and did little things right. That’s going to have to be the way we do it.”

Alexandria 5, Piedmont 1
Piedmont (4-1) 001 000 0 – 1 1 3
Alexandria (3-5)    100 121 x – 5 9 1
WP: Andrew Allen. LP: Noah Reedy. 2B: DeShaun Foster (A).

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