PREP BASEBALL PLAYOFFS: Cullman and Hanceville split Friday matchups, Vinemont eliminated on the road

Dylon Wallace (1) stands on second base after hitting a double during Cullman's series with Pell City on Friday. (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – After a season spent on the road, the Bearcats finally had an opportunity to play at the newly renovated Bill Shelton Field and opened up the new facility by splitting a pair of round two matchups with the Pell City Panthers. Cullman fell 4-3 in eight innings in game one of the night but bounced back to win game two over the Panthers to force a rubber match on Saturday.

Pell City 4 – Cullman 3 (game one)

The Panthers went ahead in the opening frame with a 2-run shot in the top of the first and managed to stretch the lead to 3-0 with an RBI single in the top of the second. After a pair of scoreless innings, Brennen Norton got the ‘Cats back in it with a 2-run homer to left field that trimmed the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth.

That score held for another two innings, thanks in large part to a solid relief effort on the mound from Blake Lambert, until Niklas Fondren slid into home plate after a dropped third strike and tied the game at 3 for Cullman in the bottom of the sixth. 

Norton came onto the mound for the Bearcats in the top of the seventh and got them out of a jam to send the game to the bottom half of the seventh tied at 3. A quick 1-2-3 inning for the Cullman bats forced the game into an eighth inning and the Panthers were able to retake the lead with an RBI single that made it 4-3. The top of the order was due up for the ‘Cats in the bottom of the eighth but they couldn’t put together enough at bats to get a run across and Pell City took game one of the series 4-3.

Norton (one HR) led Cullman with two RBIs and Cooper Beck led the way with two hits. Dylon Wallace and Peyton Colvard collected hits in the loss as well.

Cullman 7 – Pell City 1 (game two)

After dropping game one 4-3, the Bearcats took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first to set the tone. The ‘Cats got the early runs on RBI singles from Peyton Colvard and Brady Patterson and Cooper Beck crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice.

Colvard got the start on the mound for Cullman and worked his way through six shutout innings after the Bearcats built an early lead. A sacrifice fly RBI off the bat of Ben Hollis made it a 4-0 game in the top of the sixth and the ‘Cats put the game out of reach in the top of the seventh.

Niklas Fondren and Beck came home to score on an error to make it 6-0 and an RBI double from Colvard put Cullman up 7-0 with just three outs between them and game three. The Panthers plated a run with an RBI double to trim the lead to 7-1 but Colvard punched out two of the final three batters to seal the win and force a game three Saturday.

Colvard (two hits) and Hollis each drove in a pair of runs in the win and Fondren finished the game with a pair of hits for Cullman. Colvard tossed a complete game for the Bearcats, allowing one run on just two hits and striking out four.

Cullman and Pell City will be back at Bill Shelton Field with a chance to move on to round three Saturday at 2 p.m.

Phil Campbell 4 – Hanceville 0 (game one)

The Bulldogs dropped game one against Phil Campbell on their home field Friday night after falling behind 3-0 in the top of the first and being held to just one hit by the Bobcats. Matthew Cornelius collected the only hit of the loss for Hanceville and fell behind in the series 1-0, needing a win in game two to force a game three on Saturday.

Hanceville 12 – Phil Campbell 7 (game two)

After a scoreless first inning, the Bulldogs scored on an error to go up 1-0 in the top of the second, but the Bobcats responded with three runs in the bottom of the second to take the lead. An RBI single from Mark Dyer cut the lead to 3-2 in the top of the third and Ashton James scored on another error to tie the game at 3.

A sacrifice fly from Tate Brown put Hanceville on top 4-3 but Phil Campbell scored two more in the bottom of the third to go back ahead 5-4. The Bobcats stretched their lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth but sacrifice flys from both Brown and TJ Kubia tied the game at 6 and Ephrium Milne gave the Bulldogs a 7-6 lead with an RBI single and Matthew Cornelius doubled into left field to make it 8-6.

Phil Campbell scored in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to one, but Hanceville got the run back in the top of the sixth to make it a 9-7 game and pulled away to take game two 12-7.

Cornelius (one RBI), Dyer (one RBI) and Isaac Holmes (one RBI) each collected two hits in the win while Brown led the Bulldogs with two RBIs. Hanceville and Phil Campbell will be back in action for game three Saturday at 3 p.m.

Westminster Christian 15 – Vinemont 5 (game one)

Vinemont fell behind 5-0 in the first inning, but the Eagles were able to trim the lead to 6-2 by the top of the third. Both teams continued scoring to make it an 8-5 game with the Wildcats in front in the top of the fifth, but Westminster Christian began to string together hits after that and pulled away to win it 15-5.

Westminster Christian 16 – Vinemont 6 (game two)

The Wildcats put this one away early. Westminster Christian plated nine runs in the top of the first of game two to put the game out of reach for Vinemont almost immediately. The lead stretched to 12-0 by the top of the third but the Eagles were able to cut the lead to 14-5 by the bottom of the fourth. In the end, Vinemont wasn’t able to hold the Wildcats’ bats in check and they pulled away to win it in five innings 16-6, bringing the Eagles’ postseason run to an end with a 13-11 record.

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