E.A. Sports Today


UPDATED: Jacksonville loses early lead, scores unearned run in seventh inning to win Game 3, advances to 4A quarterfinals

2A: Fayetteville 11, Clarke County 9
2A: Vincent 13, Leroy 12
2A: Mars Hill Bible 11, Spring Garden 1
3A: Opp 11, T.R. Miller 1
4A: Hamilton 8, Oneonta 5
4A: Jacksonville 5, Madison County 4
4A: Etowah 4, Westminster Christian 3
5A: Madison Academy 14, Corner 5
6A: Pelham 2, Saraland 0
6A: Hueytown 5, Wetumpka 4 (8 inns.)
6A: Chelsea 7, Cullman 2
7A: Alma Bryant 10, Fairhope 9

By East Alabama Sports Today

GURLEY – The team that didn’t know where it was going to play home games at the start of the season is now getting ready to play its biggest home games of the year.

Jacksonville scored a run in the top of the seventh inning of Saturday’s Game 3 against Madison County and held on for a 5-4 victory that gave the Golden Eagles the series and a spot in the Class 4A quarterfinals for the first time since 2014.

The Golden Eagles (19-10) will host Etowah next week. The Blue Devils (24-12) also had a one-run Game 3 victory Saturday. Brooks and Hamilton play on the other side of the North bracket.

“We had a group of guys who fought for one another, didn’t give up on one another and just kept grinding and grinding and grinding through the good, through the bad, through the ugly,” Jacksonville coach Jamison Edwards said. “They just stayed together and stayed in it. They kept competing until they were able to find a way to win.”

The Golden Eagles’ whole journey to the quarterfinals has been a testament to their resiliency.

It wasn’t that long ago the team didn’t know where it would be playing home games. A week before their home opener strong winds peeled off the roof of the third-base dugout/clubhouse at Henry Farm Park like the lid on a can of tuna forcing the team to scramble to relocate games.

“This season has been a little bit odd from the get-go,” Edwards said. “That kind of speaks to what these guys have had to do along the year and the resiliency they’ve had to have. They played a tough schedule, they played a tough area championship series, so I think all those things have really been a testament to how resilient this group is and how strong a senior leadership we have on this team.”

“It’s a comforting feeling to know we can play at our home stadium,” starting pitcher Grant Patterson said.

Game 3 put the Golden Eagles through the ringer one more time. They jumped out front with four runs in the third inning, highlighted by Jim Ogle’s two-run single, but Madison County rallied for four – three unearned – in the fifth to tie it.

It stayed that way until the seventh. JaeTaj Morris and Kody Willingham got the rally started with one-out singles. Tito Canales followed with a wicked shot that turned the shortstop’s glove and caromed into short centerfield. Morris wasn’t stopping coming around third and scored the go-ahead run.

“Top of the order, that’s my guys,” Edwards said. “Taj hits 1, Kody hits 2, Tito hits 3. If I can’t win a ballgame with those guys getting swings, I’m not going to win a ballgame.”

“Tito came up to the plate and he’s one of the guys we trust and know he’ll come through if nobody else does,” Patterson said. “We’ve done a lot of things this year. We’ve been put in a lot of bad situations sometimes and have always been able to come back. No matter the score we always fought back and that’s what I love about our guys.”

Even though they scored in the seventh to take the lead, they still had some work to do. After Patterson gave the Golden Eagles six strong innings, Will Greenwood was dispatched to get the last three outs and did so with a strikeout, fly to center and foul pop that Jackson Bonner squeezed for the final out.

“Grant pitched his tail off, but he kind of fatigued out,” Edwards said. “Even before we scored, I called the seniors over and asked them who do y’all want to have the ball for these last three outs. They said, ‘Coach, give it Will.’ He went out there and did his job.”

Patterson said there were “definitely a lot of nerves” before getting the ball for the Golden Eagles’ biggest game of the year, but once he stepped on the mound he felt “really confident and ready to go.”

He gave up four hits, just one earned run and struck out two. He threw 73 pitches. He picked off a runner to end the first inning and the only trouble he ran into was in the fourth.

“I felt really ready to play,” he said. “I really didn’t want to send the seniors home.”

Jacksonville         000 400 1 –  5  6  1
Madison Co.         000 040 0 –  4  4  1
WP: Grant Patterson. LP: Christopher Fearnside.

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