E.A. Sports Today

Bouncing back

Baseball roundup: Piedmont sweeps Ohatchee on road to gain tiebreaker in key area series

Thursday’s baseball scores
Alexandria 10, Lincoln 1
Childersburg at Wellborn (2), Friday
Cleburne County at Munford (2), Friday
Fort Payne 10, Pleasant Valley 2
Jacksonville 11, Ranburne 0
Jacksonville Christian 16-0, Ragland 12-10
Oxford 2-3, Springville 0-11
Piedmont 11-10, Ohatchee 5-0
Pleasant Valley 4, Plainview 0

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OHATCHEE – It isn’t often the Piedmont baseball team finds its back to the wall, but after a non-productive series opener against Ohatchee two days earlier that’s exactly where the Bulldogs were.

If they wanted a chance to win another area championship they were going to have to sweep the Indians on the road Thursday.

After having what coach Matt Deerman called a come-to-Jesus meeting before a rainy practice Wednesday, the Bulldogs found their stroke again and beat the Indians 11-5 to formally split the series and then 10-0 in five innings to sweep the day and gain the area tiebreaker.

After going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranding seven runners on those key bags in the series opener, they were 9-for-23 with 17 RBIs in the doubleheader.

“I’m proud of our guys for the response we had today,” Deerman said. “To play the way we’ve been playing offensively and then come out and only get one run (on Tuesday) that was kind of a shock to them.

“We had a long talk in the locker room and they said well, coach, we feel like we just probably got a little bit overconfident. That’s not a good time to do it, your first area game, but we got it back today so I’m proud of them for that.

“Losing a lot of times exposes some things. I felt very good coming over here; we’d been woken up. That’s what good teams are supposed to do. When you have a bad game, you come back and you get after it in practice the next day and it usually carries over into the game. I felt like that’s what happened.”

The Bulldogs, second in this week’s 3A PBR-Alabama rankings, used a big inning in each game to take control. They scored six runs in the fourth inning of the opener to erase an early 3-1 Ohatchee lead and they scored seven in the fifth inning of the nightcap to put the run-rule in effect.

They also challenged a painful state record in the opener. Their batters were hit nine times by pitches – one shy of the all-time mark listed in the AHSAA record book. Athens Bible was hit 10 times in a game earlier this season.

Jadon Calhoun got plunked all four times he came to the plate, tying a state record now shared by five players and last reached in 2018. He pointed to the four various places on the left side of his body that took the hits.

“We learned in the first game they figured out they could throw inside on us, so we knew coming into this game they were going to try to throw inside on us,” Calhoun said. “We worked on it in practice.

“Our philosophy on the inside pitch is you either hit it or it hits you. That was my mindset going into the batter’s box all day. It didn’t frustrate me at all because it’s a free base.”

The Bulldogs aren’t shy about taking one for the team. They were hit a state record 110 times in 46 games in 2019.
It was one of the things they didn’t do in Ohatchee’s 2-1 win in the series opener.

“That’s what I’m talking about the response we had,” Deerman said. “We did a better job of doing the little stuff like that, and bunting, too. That’s two of the biggest things we talked about – not letting the ball miss inside, keep your feet still and getting hit, and getting bunts down and make them field bunts. 

“We didn’t get a bunt down the first game, either. Believe or not, I’m a small-ball guy. I like small ball better than I do the new-age baseball. That one inning (the first-game fifth) we didn’t get the ball out of the infield and we had bases loaded and we got to the top of the order (to score three more), so Jakari (Foster) and Cash (Cassius Fairs) got that inning going.” 

Oxford 2-3, Springville 0-11: Peyton Watts and Carter Johnson combined on a three-hit shutout as the Yellow Jackets (20-4) completed a sweep of their area opening series. Watts pitched the first five innings, allowed three singles and struck out five. Johnson retired all six batters he faced over the final two innings.

Oxford scored both of its runs in the second inning on Chance Griner’s RBI double and R.J. Brooks’ sacrifice fly.

The Jackets lost the nightcap of the doubleheader 11-3.

Jacksonville 11, Ranburne 0: Coleman Oliver went 4-for-4 with five RBIs and pitched a five-inning five-hit shutout with three strikeouts. Oliver had a two RBI singles, an RBI double and a two-run single. Christian Royster had two hits and two RBIs, while JaeTaj Morris and Dakoda Willingham each had two hits.

Pleasant Valley 4, Plainview 0: Dalton McElroy pitched a two-hit shutout with final-out help from Pelham Parris. McElroy gave up singles in the second and seventh innings. Parris capped the Raiders’ four-run third inning with a two-run single.

Jacksonville Christian 16-0, Ragland 12-10: Jack Harrelson went 4-for-5, Cam Moses drove in five runs and Ethan Fair went 3-for-4 with three RBIs as the Thunder won the opener. Fair’s two-run single highlighted an eight-run fifth inning that gave the Thunder the lead for good.

Ragland earned a split of the doubleheader and gained the series tiebreaker by winning the nightcap. Josh Phillips (4-for-4) and Owen Schall (3-for-3) were both perfect at the plate with three RBIs apiece and Skylar Barber pitched a four-hit shutout.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login