PREP BASEBALL: Monday night recap; Cullman and West Point collect opening day wins, Good Hope falls to Cleveland

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GOOD HOPE, Ala. – The Good Hope Raiders kicked off the 2019 baseball season at home against Cleveland Monday night and the Raiders fell late to the Panthers 5-4.

Cleveland 5 – Good Hope 4

After a scoreless first inning tossed by both starting pitchers, Cleveland struck first in the top of the second. They drew three walks, scored their first run on an RBI single, added a sacrifice fly and later scored on an error by pitcher Preston Bagwell to give them an early 3-0 lead. The Raiders got in the run column in their half of the inning with two outs when Caleb Rusk drew a walk, stole second and scored on an RBI single from Colton Williams to make it a 3-1 game.

Good Hope struck again with two outs in their next at-bats as Matt Hancock reached on an error and advanced to second. Kelton Speegle then hit a ground ball to the shortstop, which was mishandled, and that allowed Hancock to score on the play and cut the deficit to 3-2.

The Panthers added to their lead in the top of the fourth after a one-out error by Williams proved costly and the batter advanced to second on defensive indifference, then to third on a Bagwell balk, and wound up scoring on a passed ball to increase the Cleveland lead to 4-2. Back-to-back errors from Good Hope led to Cleveland's fifth run of the game and put the Raiders down three going into the sixth.

Good Hope looked for a late rally in the bottom of the sixth and they got one with one out. Jager Burns drew a walk and Rusk followed him with a single up the middle. Williams reached on an error but Burns got thrown out at home. Austin Wright was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Bagwell, who drew a walk to make it 5-3 going into the seventh.

The new pitcher, Hancock, worked around a one-out error to get out of the inning, and the Raiders looked for another rally to bring home the win in their season opener.

Speegle got things started with a one-out double to left field followed by Chiaranda who reached on an infield single. Matt Schwaiger came in to run for Speegle and Burns drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases for Rusk, who grounded into a fielder's choice which allowed Schwaiger to score and cut the lead to 5-4 but Burns was thrown out at second on the play. Williams looked to keep the rally going but struck out and Good Hope wound up falling 5-4.

Hancock collected a hit and scored a run for Good Hope. Rusk added a hit, an RBI, a walk and scored two runs. Williams finished with a hit and an RBI. Bagwell added an RBI and drew two walks, and Speegle and Chiaranda each chipped in with a hit as well. The Raiders will stay at home on Tuesday when they take on West Morgan, weather permitting.

Cullman

The Cullman Bearcats opened up the 2019 season in Hoover Monday evening and collected two wins over a pair of quality opponents. The Bearcats started things off with a 10-7 win over Helena and followed that up with a 5-2 win over Auburn.

Cullman 10 – Helena 7

Brady Patterson got things started for Cullman with a two-run double that brought around Cooper Beck and Brennan Norton. Just a few pitches later, Patterson came around to score on a triple from Dylon Wallace and Sam Baker followed him with an RBI double that made it 4-0. The Bearcats continued to bring runners across the plate in the top of the first. Cooper Bowen singled to make it 5-0 and a double from Beck on the next pitch gave Cullman a 6-0 lead going into the bottom of the second.

Helena was able to chip away at the lead in the bottom of the second with an RBI triple and two RBI singles to make it 6-4 but Aaron Miller put the Bearcats on top 8-4 with a two-RBI triple in the top of the third. Bowen followed Miller with another solid at bat that ended with an RBI single and put Cullman in front 9-4 going into the bottom half of the inning.

An RBI single from Wallace stretched the lead to 10-4 in the top of the fourth and Helena wasn’t able to overcome the lead the rest of the way. They added three runs in the fifth, but it was too little too late, and the Bearcats got the season underway with a 10-7 win.

Wallace was two for three at the plate with a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored. Bowen also finished two for three with a pair of RBIs. Patterson and Miller each finished with two RBIs as well.

Cullman 5 – Auburn 2

Braxton Jones went six innings on the mound for the Bearcats in this one, holding Auburn to just two runs on nine hits before Peyton Colvard came into the game to close things out. Cooper Beck came home to score on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the first and give Cullman a 1-0 lead, but the Tigers moved ahead with a two-RBI single in the top of the third.

Brennan Norton tied the game at two with an RBI single in the bottom of the third and both offenses were held in check for most of the game after that. A balk and an RBI walk from Sam Baker gave the Bearcats a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth and Baker later scored on a passed ball to make it 5-2.

Colvard took the mound for the final three outs and Cullman held on to win their second game of the night 5-2. Norton led the Bearcats offensively with two RBIs in the win. Cullman recorded just three hits in the win.

The Bearcats are scheduled to hit the field again at Fairhope for a game on Friday as long as it is not postponed due to this week’s wet conditions.

West Point

The West Point Warriors got their season underway Monday night as well. The Warriors hosted Curry and Arab and collected solid season-opening wins over both of them. West Point handled Curry 7-1 and edged out Arab 7-6 to get off to a 2-0 start.

West Point 16 – Curry 3

The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Warriors quickly shifted the momentum in the bottom half of the inning.

Hunter Persall scored on a fielder’s choice to tie the game and another runner came in to score on a hit batter and make it 2-1. Aubry Cleghorn scored on a passed ball during the next at bat and Branson Smith followed with an RBI single to put West Point on top 4-1. Another hit batter and a two-RBI single off the bat of Whitt Laney made it 7-1 going into the second inning and the Warriors continued to pull away.

West Point went on to win it 16-3. Full game stats were not available.

West Point 7 – Arab 6

The Warriors started out the game strong, with some help from Arab's defense. Hunter Persall reached on an error to start out their home half and Whitt Laney moved him over to second on a sacrifice bunt. Will Cochran reached on an error by the left fielder, which allowed Persall to score, and Cochran advanced to second during the play. He moved to third on a wild pitch and Aubry Cleghorn then drew a walk. Cochran scored on an error by the second baseman and then Rylan Jones reached on an error by the shortstop. Cleghorn stole second and later scored on a wild pitch. Branson Smith added an RBI double to left field to give West Point an early 4-0 lead.

The Warriors made it 5-0 in the bottom of the second on back-to-back Arab errors. A two-out, two-run single from the Knights in the top of the fifth made it a 5-2 contest, but Cleghorn hit a solo home run over the left field fence in West Point's half of the fifth to stretch their lead to 6-2. Persall hit a two-out triple in the bottom of the sixth and Laney reached on an RBI infield single to make it a 7-2 game.

Arab, though, made things very interesting in their final at-bats. A hit-by-pitch, a single, and a walk loaded the bases for the Knights, which was followed by an RBI single and a three-run home run to make it a 7-6 game. After another walk, Cochran settled down and got the final two outs of the game and the Warriors went on to win 7-6.

Cleghorn finished the game with two hits, including the home run, a walk, and he scored two runs for West Point. Laney and Smith each added a hit and an RBI in the contest. Persall collected two hits and scored three runs. Cochran and Jones each scored a run. Cleghorn went four innings as he allowed just two hits, two runs, walked three, and struck out three. Cochran went two runs, allowing four hits, four runs, walking three, and striking out three. The Warriors will travel to Arab on Thursday, weather permitting. 

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