E.A. Sports Today

Playoff roundup

Spring Garden splits with Falkville, Cherokee County swept out by North Jackson

Friday’s area playoff scores
1A: Lindsay Lane 2-2, Donoho 1-3 (Game 3, Sat., 1 p.m.)
2A: Ranburne 7-2, Leroy 0-5 (Game 3, Sat., noon)
2A: Falkville 7-2, Spring Garden 1-18 (Game 3, Sat., 1 p.m.)
2A: Westbrook Christian 6-8, Cold Springs 1-3
3A: Piedmont 12-6, Sylvania 6-1
3A: Fyffe 4-6, Ohatchee 2-4
4A: Handley 4-0, Jackson 0-9 (Game 3, Sat., noon)
4A: North Jackson 12-8, Cherokee County 2-6
5A: Ardmore 3-6, Alexandria 1-12 (Game 3, Sat., noon)

SPRING GARDEN – The Falkville Blue Devils awakened the sleeping giant known as the Spring Garden offense in the second game of their second round Class 2A baseball playoff series on Friday.

After falling in the first game 7-1, the Panthers pounded the Blue Devils 18-2 in five innings behind 14 hits, including two home runs from senior catcher Luke Welsh and a grand slam from junior center fielder Chaz Pope. It was the first grand slam of Pope’s varsity career and Welsh’s 12th homer of the season.

The decisive third game is set for Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. It’s the second straight weekend the fourth-ranked Panthers (23-14) have been taken the distance. After losing their first game at Sulligent last weekend, they rallied to take the next two.

“I feel like (the second game) that’s how we should play,” said Welsh, who finished Game 2 going 3-for-5 with a two-run shot to left in the third inning and a three-run blast left in the fifth. He also had a double.

Pope went 3-for-3 with his grand slam in the top of the fifth. He also had a two-run double to left in the third, a single to left in the first, and was hit twice by pitches.

The Panther bats provided plenty of run support for Landon Gowens. The Game 2 starter scattered a pair of runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. 

“We lost Game One, and Landon did what he did last week – he shut them down,” Spring Garden coach Tony Benefield said. “He pitched well. He wasn’t quite as sharp as he was last week, but he was plenty good enough. Right now he’s in a zone. He’s very confident out there. He’s getting the job done.”

The Panthers were also getting the job done at the plate in Game 2. They scored single runs in the first two innings and put up a four-spot in the third to take a 6-0 lead. Falkville scored a run in the bottom of the third, but then the Panthers erupted for five runs in the fourth and seven
in the fifth on Pope’s grand slam and Welsh’s three-run shot. 

Senior third baseman Weston Kirk was also 3-for-5 with a double for the Panthers. Freshman left fielder Chapel Pope posted a two-run single and two walks. Senior second baseman Ryley Kirk collected a hit, two walks and was hit by a pitch.
 
Designated hitter Grayden Guthrie, first baseman Jackson Maddox and right fielder Andrew Floyd each had a hit and a walk. Maddox’s hit was a double. Nine-hole batter Cam Welsh walked four times.

“All those guys know how to hit the ball,” Benefield said. “We’ve got a pretty good hitting lineup one through nine. When they’re on, they’re really on. They got on in the fourth and fifth innings. They just knocked the cover off the ball.”

In the first game, Falkville scored three runs in the top of the first on catcher Peyton Salle’s three-run blast to center and extended its lead with three more runs in the third
and one in the sixth.
 
Spring Garden’s bats were stymied by Blue Devil starter Colton Hooper. He retired 11 Panthers on pop outs and struck out three. Third baseman Kenneth Petty was the only Panther with multiple hits. He went 3-for-3, but he injured his right wrist late in the game and did not
play in Game 2.

“The first game we weren’t patient at all,” Benefield said. “We had a lot of first-pitch swings, out front, pop ups, ground balls. Toward the end of that game we started barreling some balls up, but we were hitting them right at people. It was just one of those games. It was the same type of thing we had last week.” – Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

Cherokee County swept

CENTRE – North Jackson swept the Cherokee County Warriors out of the Class 4A playoffs, 12-2 and 8-6.

In the opener, North Jackson pitcher Carson Smith scattered two earned runs on four hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts through 6 2/3 innings. Daegan Scott suffered the loss for the Warriors (17-15).

The Chiefs scored three runs in the top of the first inning to set the tone, then added seven runs in the fifth and two more in the seventh.

Cherokee County scored its runs in the first and third innings.

Haden Wheeler led the offense by going 2-for-4 with a run. Connor Wilson homered in the third. Tristan Whitefield added a double and a RBI.

In the second game, the Warriors struck for five runs in the top of the first inning, but their lead evaporated in the bottom half of the inning as the Chiefs put up a five-spot of their own.

North Jackson took a 6-5 lead in the second. The Warriors tied the game at
six with a run in the top of the fourth, but the Chiefs added another run
in the bottom half of the fourth and another in the sixth for the final.

Pruett led the Warriors at the plate by going 3-for-3 with a run. Malachi
Horton doubled, walked and scored two runs. Whitefield contributed a hit, a run and two RBIs. Cooper Rodgers had a hit and a two RBIs.

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