E.A. Sports Today

Feels like Opening Day

Playoff roundup: Donoho’s bats come alive in playoff opener; Alexandria, Piedmont, Jacksonville, Munford all score first-round sweeps, and more

Alexandria 16-9, Fairview 0-0
Donoho 18-17, Skyline 0-1
Jacksonville 8-16, West Limestone 4-3
Munford 7-11, St. Michael’s Catholic 6-4
Oxford 13-1, Gardendale 3-0
Plainview 3-4, Ohatchee 0-0
Phil Campbell 13-15, Saks 0-1
Piedmont 5-10, Sylvania 0-0

Childersburg at Piedmont
Donoho at Sumiton Christian
Munford at Gordo
Jacksonville at Madison County
John Carroll at Alexandria
Oxford at Hazel Green

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Nic Thompson doesn’t hold back when it comes to his feelings about the opening round of the playoffs. It’s as exciting to the Donoho shortstop as Opening Day, maybe a little more because there’s more on the line.

The Falcons rode that wave of excitement to a big day in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs, an 18-0, 17-1 sweep of Skyline. They’ll travel to Sumiton Christian for Round 2.

“First round of the playoffs is always the best,” Thompson said. “Opening Day is always fun. That’s the best baseball you can ever have. First game of the playoffs is even better because you know it’s go hard or go home.

“First round of the playoffs is always like Opening Day, that’s how it goes for me. Brand new baseballs, records don’t matter anymore, now it’s just whoever wins the games.”

The Falcons weren’t going to be denied. They pounded 27 hits to score their 35 runs, 13 going for extra bases. They hit seven homers in the two games with Thompson hitting two in the opener and driving in seven, Peyton Webb hitting two – in the same inning – in the nightcap and Slade Haney hitting one each game.

“It’s nice when balls are leaving the yard,” Donoho coach Steve Gendron said. “They put some good swings on it, the wind’s blowing and going a little bit today, which always helps, but those balls were hit well.”

The homers led to double-digit innings in each game that put them out of reach.

Thompson hit a three-run homer and a two-run double in a 12-run second inning that broke open the first game. Haney had a two-run homer and RBI single in the inning. Thompson hit a two-run homer in the fifth and Judson Billings a three-run blast three hitters later.

Meanwhile, on the mound, Haney gave up only one hit – a first-inning single – and struck out eight in five innings. He faced only four batters over the minimum in the five-inning game.

In the nightcap, Webb’s two homers and one by Haney fueled a 10-run second inning in the nightcap. Webb hit a three-run bomb his first time up in the inning and a two-run shot the next. Haney hit a two-run shot in between.

“We were talking before the game and said it would be nice to see a methodical approach of winning every inning and I think that we did that,” Gendron said.

Skyline                    000     00 –   0   1  2
Donoho                  1(12)0 50 – 18 18  0
WP: Slade Haney. LP: Gabe Waldrop. 2B: Blake Sewell (D), Nic Thompson (D), Tyler Allen (D). HR: Slade Haney (D), Nic Thompson 2 (D), Judson Billings (D).

Donoho                  50(10) 20 – 17 9 0
Skyline                   000      01 –  1 6 4
WP: Blake Sewell. LP: Weston Avans. 2B: Slade Haney (D), Lucas Elliott (D), Tyler Allen (D), Daniel Olinger (S), Gabe Waldrop (S). HR: Slade Haney (D), Peyton Webb 2 (D).

Golden Eagles take advantage

JACKSONVILLE – Jacksonville took full advantage of its first home playoff series since 2015 and swept West Limestone 8-4, 16-3 in the Class 4A playoffs.

The Golden Eagles, who had 23 runs and 28 hits in their doubleheader sweep of Cherokee County last week to clinch the area title, continued on that track against the Wildcats. They scored 24 runs and pounded 29 hits. They had eight doubles in the doubleheader.

“They had a guy who throws about 88 in Game 1 that I thought we did a good job of being patient with and trying to work the count,” Jacksonville coach Jamison Edwards said. “We had enough guys able to barrel up a fastball. Nick (Salmon) did a good job of working out of some tight spots and we pulled it out. I had a good feeling about Game 2 after watching that. 

“Game 2 they did a great job adjusting to the difference in speed from Game 1. They worked the ball through the middle of the field and strung together hits for some big innings.”

The Golden Eagles took the leada for good in the opener with four in the fourth. Grant Patterson went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Jacoby Zackery went 3-for-3.

They had all kinds of contributors in the nightcap. JaeTaj Morris went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, Jackson Bonner went 4-for-4 with three RBIs and Kody Willingham, Tito Canales, Jim Ogle and Carmelo Canales all had two hits apiece.

Bonner had a two-run single and Carmelo Canales aa two-run double in the seven-run first. The Golden Eagles put together six straight hits and a walk to score five more in the third. Morris had a three-run double in the fifth.

W. Limestone    003 001 0 – 4   7 2
Jacksonville       020 402 x – 8  11 2
WP: Nick Salmon. LP: Colin Patterson. 2B: Braxton Griffin (WL), Cooper Phillips (WL), Tito Canales (J), JaeTaj Morris (J).

Jacksonville       705 04 –  16 18 3
W. Limestone    030 00 –    3   6 4
WP: Kody Willingham. LP: Braxton Griffin. 2B: Carmelo Canales (J), Kody Willingham (J), Jackson Bonner 2 (J), JaeTaj Morris (J), Jacoby Zackery (J).

Focused Cubs sweep Fairview

Alexandria jumped out to big leads in both games and got a pair of one-hitters from its pitching staff to open the Class 5A playoffs with a sweep of Fairview, 16-0 and 9-0.

The Valley Cubs hit for the cycle as a team in a stretch of five batters in the first inning of the opening and scored six runs, then poured on eight more in the third. Andrew Allen gave up only a leadoff single in the fourth, struck out seven and faced only four batters over the minimum in the five-inning game.

Ian Cartwright hit a three-run homer in the first inning and had four RBIs in the game. Austin Jeffers went 3-for-3.

“We started out hot, which was great to get some runs and support for our pitchers and they did well,” Cubs coach Andy Shaw said. “I thought we had a great week of practice and great preparation for them, the kids were very focused all week and it showed tonight. There was a lot of intensity the whole time.

“We had the big win in the first one and it’s easy to go in with a false sense of confidence, but they put it away and went about their business and did a good job the second game.”

In the nightcap, they scored two in the first and gradually pulled away. Tripp Patterson gave up only a first-inning single and struck out 12 in his six innings. Austin West struck out the side in order in the seventh.

Aaron Johnson went 2-for-2 and the Valley Cubs took advantage of numerous Fairview errors and five walks. 

Fairview                 000 00  –   0   1  4
Alexandria            608 2x  – 16 15  0
WP: Andrew Allen. LP: Lucas West. 2B: Tyler Brown (A). 3B: Austin Jeffers (A). HR: Ian Cartwright (A).

Alexandria           210 204 0 – 9 5 4
Fairview                000 000 0 – 0 1 9
WP: Tripp Patterson. LP: Parker Martin. 

Pitching gems power Piedmont

PIEDMONT – Jack Hayes and Cassius Fairs turned in top-notch pitching performances to lead top-ranked Piedmont to a 5-0, 10-0 sweep of Sylvania in the Class 3A playoffs. The Bulldogs (29-4) will take a 23-game winning streak into the next round against Childersburg.

Hayes tossed a one-hitter in the opener with one walk and seven strikeouts. Fairs followed with a no-hitter in the nightcap with three walks and four strikeouts.

Hayes retired the first 11 hitters he faced. He lost his no-hitter on a two-out single by Sawyer Hughes in the sixth. Fairs allowed four baserunners in the first two innings on three walks and a hit batsman, but allowed only one more – on a sixth-inning error – the rest of the game and he was erased on a double play.

Austin Estes went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI and Fairs drove in two runs. had two RBIs in the opener.

Jake Austin had three hits in the second game; Hayes hit a two-run homer in the first inning, Estes and Noah Reedy both went 2-for-3. Mohon went 0-for-3 in the game, ending his hitting streak at 27 games.

Sylvania                000 000 0 –  0 1 1
Piedmont             101 003 x –  5 6 1
WP: Jack Hayes. LP: Gavin Chambers. 2B: Austin Estes (P).

Piedmont             302 113  – 10 8 1
Sylvania                000 000  –    0 0 5
WP: Cassius Fairs. LP: Brody Smith. 2B: Austin Estes (P), Jack Hayes (P). HR: Jack Hayes (P)

Lions ride walk-off to sweep

MUNFORD – The home-standing Lions scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to win their Class 4A playoff opener with St. Michael’s Catholic and then broke open the nightcap with seven runs in the sixth to complete the sweep, 7-6, 11-4.

Corbin Smith went 4-for-4, Connor Morgana went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Tyler Stephens homered in the opener. Riley Brown pitched a complete game for the win. The Lions tied the game with two in the sixth.

In the nightcap, Mason Brewer and Brody Stephens both went 3-for-4 and Connor Fisher drove in two runs. Alex Petty gave up three hits and one earned run with eight strikeouts over the first five innings and Brewer pitched two innings of perfect relief to close it out.

St. Michael’s   212 001 0 – 6 10 3
Munford          112 002 1 – 7 14 3
WP: Riley Brown. HR: Tyler Stephens (M).

Munford           012 107 0 – 11 14 2
St. Michael’s    202 000 0 –   4   3 3
WP: Alex Petty. 2B: M. Brewer 2 (M), Alex Petty (M).

Bears handcuff Ohatchee

RAINSVILLE – Plainview shut down Ohatchee’s bats for 14 innings to score a 3-0, 4-0 sweep in their Class 3A playoff series.

Noah White held the Indians to three hits in the opener and Sam Crowell held them to four hits and struck out 11 in the nightcap. The only other team to hold the Indians scoreless in back-to-back games this season has been Piedmont.

The Bears broke a scoreless pitching duel between White and Ohatchee’s Bryce Noah in the opener with a run in the fourth and added two in the fifth. 

The Indians had only two runners get past first base in the opener. They had bases loaded with one out in the seventh inning of the nightcap, but Crowell struck out the last two batters.

Brent Honaker and Jesse Baswell had two hits apiece for Ohatchee in the nightcap.

Ohatchee              000 000 0 – 0 3 3
Plainview             000 120 x – 3 7 1
WP: Noah White. LP: Bryce Noah. 2B: Jake Roberts (O), Ethan Williams (P).

Plainview             003 000 1 – 4 8 2
Ohatchee              000 000 0 – 0 4 3
WP: Sam Crowell. LP: Carson Tittle. 2B: Harrison Huber (P), Sam Crowell (P), Brent Honaker (O)

Big early innings doom Saks

PHIL CAMPBELL – Wasting little time taking control, Phil Campbell used big first innings in both games and then had their pitchers slam the door as it swept Saks in the Class 3A playoffs 13-0, 15-1.

The Bobcats scored nine runs in the home first of the opener and Cam Habada held the Wildcats to first-inning singles by Trent Hopkins and Mason Jairrels and struck out 11.

They erupted for eight runs in the top of the first of the nightcap and Cole Pace held the Wildcats to singles by Jairrels and Jacori Avery. Saks scored its only run of the doubleheader in the first inning on Jairrels’ RBI single.

Saks                      000 00 –   0 2 2
Phil Campbell    902 2x – 13 8 2
WP: Cam Habada. LP: Mason Jairrels. 2B: Sage Raper (PC). 3B: Cam Habada (PC).

Phil Campbell    800 34 – 15 12 2
Saks                      100 00 –   1   2 3
WP: Cole Pace. LP: Jeremy Waters. 3B: Bryant Anthony (PC).

Cover photo by B.J. Franklin

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