PREP BASEBALL PLAYOFFS: Bearcats split round 1 matchups with Hazel Green; playoff scoring recap

Cullman’s Brennen Norton (8) rolls a double play during the Bearcats’ 12-1 win over Hazel Green Friday. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – It’s playoff time and that means the stands were packed with fans at Bill Shelton Field Friday night to see the Bearcats take on Hazel Green in the opening round of the AHSAA state playoffs. Cullman took game one 12-1 to take an early lead in the series but dropped a very tight game two 4-1, forcing a game three on Saturday for a spot in round two next week.

Cullman 12 – Hazel Green 1 (Game one)

Shortstop Brennen Norton rolled a 6-3 double play himself to get the ‘Cats out of the top of the first but after loading up the bases with no outs in the bottom half of the inning, Cullman wasn’t able to capitalize, and the game remained scoreless going into the second. Hazel Green was able to load the bases in the top of the second but another 6-3 double play by Norton got the Bearcats out of the inning unscathed once again.

The Trojans struggled to throw strikes in the bottom half of the second and the ‘Cats took advantage. Matt Brock, Brennen Norton and Hayden Stancil all drew walks with the bases loaded to give Cullman a 3-0 lead and Kaleb Heatherly drove an RBI single into right field to make it 4-0. Max Dueland extended the inning with an RBI single to left to make it a 5-0 game and Stancil tagged up on a line out from Jake Dueland to make it 6-0. The Bearcats added one more run to their lead when Heatherly scored on an RBI groundout from Hunter Brooks, and they led the way 7-0 going into the third.

After a scoreless third inning, Cullman tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth to make it an 8-0 game when Max Dueland laced another RBI single into right field. Hazel Green led off the top of the fifth with a solo homerun to trim the lead to 8-1 but the Trojans wouldn’t get any closer than that and the ‘Cats would end things early in the bottom half of the fifth. After Zac Edwards and Paxton Ponder led off the bottom of the fifth with a pair of singles and Norton was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Heatherly launched a no-doubter over the field house in left field to plate four more runs and give Cullman a 12-1 win in five innings.

In addition to his three hits and five RBIs at the plate, Heatherly got the start on the mound and tossed all five innings, allowing just one run on five hits and striking out a pair of Trojans. Max Dueland finished a pair of hits and RBIs in the win and Edwards posted a pair of hits as well.

Hazel Green 4 – Cullman 1 (Game two)

After hanging 12 runs on the Trojans in game one, the ‘Cats found themselves locked in a pitcher’s duel in game two. After a scoreless first inning, Cullman managed to get on the board in the top of the second when Max Dueland crossed the plate on an error to make it a 1-0 game.

Hazel Green tied things up in the bottom of the third after scoring on a wild pitch and the Trojans drilled a solo homerun in the fourth to pull ahead 2-1. The Bearcats were able to get runners in scoring position in the top of the fifth but were unable to take advantage and stranded both of them. Cullman couldn’t get any runs on the board in the top of the sixth either and Hazel Green strung some hits together in the bottom half of the inning to build its lead to 4-1 going into the seventh.

Cullman got the leadoff man on in the top of the seventh, but a double play gave the Trojans a quick pair of outs and Hazel Green went on to take game two over the Bearcats 4-1 to force a game three Saturday.

Dueland posted a pair of hits in the loss and Matt Brock, Will Bradberry and Kaleb Heatherly each added a hit as well.

The ‘Cats will be on the field Saturday at 1 p.m. for game three against the Trojans barring any schedule changes due to wet weather.

Other Friday round one scores:

Vinemont 4 – J.B. Pennington 3 (Game one)

Vinemont looked to get off to a strong start offensively in game one and they got something going with two outs as Collin Teichmiller drew a walk and Deacon Samples hit a single to right field, but Austin Riddle grounded out to end the inning. J.B. Pennington hit a two-run double, then they added an RBI single as they jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after one. 

But Samples kept the Tigers off the scoreboard for the next three innings, and the Eagles looked to finally crack the scoreboard in the top of the fifth. Braden Boner hit a leadoff single, then Preston Williams drew a walk. Will Rhodes hit the first pitch that he saw to center field for a double as that brought home Boner to put Vinemont on the scoreboard, then later on, Teichmiller hit an RBI groundout to make it a 3-2 game. 

Samples allowed a leadoff triple in the bottom of the fifth inning, but he retired the next three batters on a fly out and a pair of strikeouts to get out of the inning without allowing a run. Austin Riddle and Mason McKinney hit back-to-back singles to lead off the sixth, then a Pennington error allowed Riddle to cross the plate and that tied the game up at three. 

Samples kept the game tied at three going into the seventh inning as Vinemont looked to take the lead. Rhodes got hit by the pitch, then Colby Miller reached on a fielder’s choice. Miller then stole second and later scored on back-to-back Tiger errors to give the Eagles a 4-3 lead. Samples retired Pennington in order in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Eagles is ahead 1-0 in the series after their 4-3 win over the Tigers.

Rhodes led the way for Vinemont as he finished with a hit and an RBI, while Teichmiller and Ayden Thomason each added an RBI in the game as well. Samples, Riddle, McKinney, and Boner each collected a hit. Samples went the distance as he allowed just five hits and three runs, two of them earned, walked two and struck out 13. After the first inning, Samples allowed just four Tigers to reach base.

J.B. Pennington 10 – Vinemont 0 (Game two)

Vinemont looked to move on to the next round in its game two matchup with J.B. Pennington Friday, but the Eagles were held to just two singles from Collin Teichmiller and Braden Boner as the Eagles got shut out by the Tigers 10-0 to tie the series at one game apiece. Vinemont will head back over to J.B. Pennington Saturday at noon for a rubber game with the Tigers to decide who will advance to round two.

Sardis 6 – West Point 2 (Game one)

The Warriors traveled to Sardis for their first-round matchup Friday night but were held to just a pair of runs in the opening game and fell to the Lions 6-2.

After a scoreless first and second inning, West Point struck first in the top of the third. Branson Smith drove in JD Cochran with an RBI single to make it a 1-0 game, but Sardis responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning to pull ahead 2-1. An RBI single from Isaac Hoffpauir tied the game at 2 in the top of the fourth but the Warriors couldn’t take the lead and the Lions got the run back in their half of the inning.

An RBI single gave Sardis a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth and the Lions tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fifth and another in the sixth to take a 6-2 lead into the final frame. West Point was unable to push any more runs across and the Warriors dropped game one of the series 6-2.

Aubry Cleghorn posted a pair of hits for West Point in the loss and Smith (one hit) and Hoffpauir (one hit) each finished with an RBI.

West Point 4 – Sardis 2 (Game two)

An RBI single gave Sardis an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first but after driving a double into center field, Aubry Cleghorn came all the way around to score on an error to tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the second. Caiden Rodgers scored on a sacrifice fly from Branson Smith to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third and Chase Sibley drew a walk with the bases loaded in the fourth to stretch the lead to 3-1 going into the fifth.

After a scoreless fifth inning, West Point added another run to the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Cade Simmons drove in Carter Thornton with an RBI single to make it 4-1, and the Warriors got the final three outs they needed in the top of the seventh to take game two over Sardis 4-2.

Cleghorn and Thornton each posted a pair of hits and RBIs in the win and Simmons (one hit), Sibley and Smith each finished with an RBI for West Point. The Warriors and Lions are slated to play game three at Sardis Saturday at 1 p.m. barring any schedule changes due to weather.

Cherokee County 7 – Good Hope 5 (Game one)

Good Hope traveled to take on Cherokee County in the first round of the Class 4A AHSAA state playoffs Friday night. In what was an evenly matched game, Cherokee County scored some late insurance runs, and the Raiders were unable to counter as they wound up dropping game one to the Indians, 7-5.

After a scoreless first inning, Good Hope got on the scoreboard first in the top of the second. Morgan Cook reached on catcher’s interference to lead off the inning, then singles by Preston Seymore and Tyler Black loaded the bases with one out. Cook wound up scoring on a Cherokee County error, then a suicide squeeze play by Travis Brock brought home Seymore as that gave the Raiders a 2-0 lead. A sacrifice fly by the Indians in their half made it a 2-1 game, then they added four more runs in the third on two RBI singles and a two-run single.

Good Hope looked to counter in the top of the fourth. Seymore drew a leadoff walk, then Black reached on a bunt single. After a fielder’s choice moved them both up 90 feet, Caleb Rusk lined a two-run double to center field to make it a 5-4 contest. Braxton Marshall scored on a two-out error in the fifth as that tied the game up at five, but the Indians added a run in their half on a sacrifice fly and they scored on an error in the sixth to give them a 7-5 lead.

Good Hope had one last shot to take the lead in the top of the seventh. Seymore and Colten Whatley drew back-to-back walks to lead off the inning, then a sacrifice bunt moved them to second and third, but back-to-back strikeouts ended the game, and the Raiders is down 1-0 in the series after losing to Cherokee County, 7-5.

Rusk finished with a hit and two RBIs for Good Hope and Brock collected an RBI in the contest as well. Paydon Bagwell added three hits. Black ended up with two hits, while Marshall and Seymore each finished with a hit.

Cherokee County 12 – Good Hope 0 (Game two)

Good Hope looked to even the series up at one and keep their season alive in game two against Cherokee County, but they were held to just singles by Preston Seymore and Colten Whatley as the Raiders’ season came to an end at the hands of the Indians, 12-0.

Good Hope finished the year with a record of 11-17 and they will lose four seniors to graduation: Travis Brock, Lawton Farr, Caleb Rusk, and Lane Speegle. The Raiders will have a lot of great talent returning next season as they will look to get into the postseason again in 2022.

Madison Academy 11 – Fairview 0 (Game one)

Fairview started their postseason at Madison Academy in round one of the Class 5A AHSAA state playoffs, but things didn’t go according to plan as they got shut out and no-hit by the Mustangs 11-0 to fall behind in the series 1-0.

Madison Academy 14 – Fairview 1 (Game two)

Fairview looked to keep their season alive in game two against Madison Academy, but a huge third inning by the Mustangs proved to be the difference and the Aggies’ season came to an end on Friday as they ended up falling to Madison Academy, 14-1. Fairview’s lone run came in the fourth inning as Preston Ryan scored on a passed ball.

Parker Martin and Brody Hogeland had the only two hits of the game for the Aggies, who finished the season with a record of 14-18. Fairview will lose a lot of key players to graduation this season, including Levi Garner, Jack Brown and Preston Ryan, but they will have a lot of key pieces returning in 2022 and they will look to have another successful year and make an even deeper postseason run.

Arab 11 – West Point 7 (Softball)

After winning a pitchers’ duel against Jasper on Thursday, West Point traveled to take on Arab as they looked to end the season strong, but they ended up falling to the Lady Knights in a high-scoring affair.

Arab scored on a pair of errors and a wild pitch to start out their half of the first inning as they jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead. They made it 4-0 on an RBI single in the second inning, but West Point countered in the top of the third. Back-to-back two-out singles by Lexi Shadix and Carlie Wilkins got things started for the Lady Warriors, then Sydney Sellers hit an RBI double to make it a 4-1 game. West Point got the bats going in the fourth inning as Lexi Shadix scored on an error, Wilkins hit an RBI single, and Sellers hit a two-run double as that gave them a 5-4 lead.

But Arab got the lead right back in their half as they got their four runs on a two-run double, an RBI single and a passed ball as the Lady Warriors found themselves down, 8-5. But they cut into the deficit in the top of the fifth as back-to-back sacrifice flies by Lexi Kimbril and Bethany Minck made it a one-run game. The Lady Knights added to their lead in their half on an RBI double, an error, and a sacrifice fly and West Point was unable to cut into the deficit as they dropped a tough game on the road to Arab, 11-7.

Sellers finished with three hits and three RBIs for West Point (20-18-2). Wilkins added a pair of hits and an RBI, Minck collected a hit and an RBI, and Kimbril ended up with an RBI as well. Kylee Quinn added three hits, while Brindlee Phillips and Shadix each ended up with a pair of hits. The Lady Warriors will travel to take on Danville next Thursday.

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