CULLMAN, Ala. – After splitting last night’s games with Pell City, the Cullman Bearcats hit the field on Saturday for a rubber match against the Panthers with a spot in round three of the state playoffs on the line.
The ‘Cats set the tone right out of the gate by tacking on six runs in the bottom of the first. Peyton Colvard was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 1-0 and one pitch later, Dylon Wallace stretched the lead to 2-0 with an RBI single. Ben Hollis put Pell City in a deep hole after that by putting a grand slam over the center field wall and putting Cullman in front 6-0.
A pair of RBI singles trimmed the lead to 6-3 in the top of the second, but the Bearcats had another big inning in them. Back to back RBI singles from Nick Braswell and A.J. Miller made it an 8-3 game and Niklas Fondren drew a walk with the bases loaded to extend the lead to 9-3. Cooper Beck was hit just a few pitches later, bringing in another run for Cullman, Miller came home to score on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly from Brennen Norton put the Panthers down 12-3.
Hollis drove in two more runs with a single up the middle to make it 14-3 and the ‘Cats held onto that lead to win it in five innings. Hollis (two hits) racked up six RBIs in the win and Miller (one RBI) led the way with three hits. Braswell (one hit), Wallace (one hit), Beck (one hit), Norton (one hit) and Colvard each drove in a run for Cullman.
Wallace got the start and the win for the Bearcats on the mound and head coach Brent Patterson credits his quick first inning for the early shot of momentum they got in the first inning of the game.
“For Dylon to go out and be sharp in the first, he set the tone and then because of the momentum he created, we come in and have a big first inning and it lets you take a breath and it takes the pressure off of the game,” Patterson said. “It’s game three and it means the world to both sides and so you want to play from on top obviously. If it doesn’t happen then you’ve got to scratch and claw like we tried to do yesterday but you want to play from on top and it was just one good at bat after another from Niklas to Cooper and then Brennen hit a first pitch breaking ball and just one after another and Ben had the big blow.”
Hazel Green is the next obstacle for Cullman on its way to Montgomery this year and Patterson is anticipating a very tight series against a great opponent.
“They are fantastic. They’re well coached, they’re competitive, they’ve got five or six arms on the mound at least and so you’re going to have to put great games together, have a great plan, a great approach in the box, string good at bats together and play great defense,” Patterson said. “They can really swing it and they’re as solid as any team I’ve seen in a long time, so it’ll be a great series.”
The Bearcats will travel to Hazel Green next Friday for round three of the AHSAA state playoffs.
Phil Campbell 11 – Hanceville 3
The Bulldogs’ postseason run came to an end Saturday after they fell to the Bobcats of Phil Campbell in a game three matchup 11-3.
The Bobcats scored a pair of runs in the top of the first to take an early lead, but Hanceville answered in their half of the inning with an RBI single from Alex Campbell that cut the lead to 2-1. After a pair of scoreless innings, Phil Campbell began to pull away in the fourth. The Bobcats scored one in the fourth, two in the fifth and three in the sixth to build an 8-1 advantage going into the bottom half of the sixth inning.
TJ Kubia singled into right field to bring around Campbell and trim the lead to 8-2 in the sixth and Tate Brown came home to score on a fielder’s choice to make it an 8-3 game but the Bobcats added three more runs in the top of the seventh to put the game out of reach for Hanceville and held on to win it 11-3.
The loss brings the final record to 15-10 for Hanceville with some young talent returning to the field for the Bulldogs next season.
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