E.A. Sports Today

On to the finals

Piedmont stages another comeback, beats Phil Campbell in Game 3 to reach Class 3A championship series

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

PHIL CAMPBELL – The Piedmont Bulldogs are heading to the state finals.

The Bulldogs erupted for six runs in the fifth and sixth innings to erase a one-run deficit and defeat Phil Campbell 8-4 in a winner-take-all Game 3 Wednesday for a spot in next week’s Class 3A state championship series.

They will play the winner of Thursday’s Trinity Presbyterian-Thomasville Game 3. The championship series starts 7 p.m. Monday at Jacksonville State, and continues there Tuesday at 10 a.m.

The trip to the finals will be Piedmont’s fourth since 2012. The Bulldogs also have gone in 2017 and 2019.

“It’s a surreal feeling right now; it’s unbelievable,” Piedmont coach Matt Deerman said. “But this can’t be our Super Bowl.

“This series has been real heated and very tight the last three years. Just to win it, it’s a battle. You’ve got to go through some adversity and show a lot of fight in order to win this series and we did that today against a really good team.”

The game followed a familiar theme for the Bulldogs. They rallied to even the series after losing Game 1 Tuesday. They rallied from an early deficit to win Game 2. And they rallied from an early deficit to win Game 3.

The Bulldogs trailed 3-2 going to the fifth inning, but scored twice in the inning to take the lead, then broke it open with four in the sixth against Bobcats Alabama commitment Mason Swinney.

Max Hanson tied the game with a one-out RBI double to left and scored the go-ahead run when McClane Mohon’s single got through the right fielder.

They extended the lead to 8-3 on Austin Estes’ RBI single, Jack Hayes’ sacrifice fly, a wild pitch and Noah Reedy’s RBI single.

“We’ve been down like that before,” Hanson said. “Like the football game at state. We’re down, everyone turned the TVs off in that and we came back in that. We did it in baseball a few times. It’s starting to become our thing.”

“We’ve got heart,” Fairs said. “A lot of the kids I’ve played with since I was very young in PARD and we’ve had comebacks that make people have heart attacks, like. We’ve just always had heart and always had fight and we’re not going to stop fighting until it’s over with.”

After throwing 25 pitches to stop the Bobcats in Game 2, Estes made his first start of the season Wednesday and gave the Bulldogs three good innings under a short pitch count. Fairs finished it up and allowed one sixth-inning run in four innings.

“Austin was a ‘dog today and when Cash got settled in, he was lights out,” Deerman said. “He just battled. He lost his confidence last week at Lauderdale County, hadn’t thrown but like 28 pitches, well, he got it back today. A lot of guys played with a lot of heart today, I’m proud of them.”

When the final out was registered, Trevor Pike kicked off the celebration with his traditional backflip – 10 of them. He’ll be doing 12 if the Bulldogs win the title.

“He never gets tired,” Hanson said. “He’s 100 percent all the time.”

Fairs is saving his backflip for a special occasion.

“My backflips come when we win state,” he said. “I’ve got one for the boys when we win state. I already told everybody I’ve got them.”

Piedmont 8, Phil Campbell 4

PiedmontABRHBIPhil CampbellABRHBI
Austin Estes2111Bryant Anthony3110
Max Hanson3211Sage Raper4010
Jack Hayes2011Mason Swinney3222
Noah Reedy4111Cam Habada4000
McClane Mohon4130Kyle Pace2011
Jake Austin4000Hunter Baker3010
Ridge Fagan3100Bryant Hyde3011
Sloan Smith3011Cole Pace4000
Cassius Fairs4220Jacob Barnwell4011
Omarion Foster0000Eli Taylor0000
Piedmont (35-5)0200240 —8
Phil Campbell (30-9)2010010 —4

E: Piedmont 1, Phil Campbell 2. 2B: Hanson, Swinney 2. SB: Smith, Swinney. SF: Hayes. S: Estes, Smith

Austin Estes343343
Cassius Fairs (W)441134
Phil Campbell
Mason Swinney (L)6108536
Eli Taylor100001

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