PREP BASEBALL PLAYOFFS: ‘Cats drop game 3 at Chelsea 7-2

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The Cullman Bearcats’ postseason run ended in the second round Saturday after falling in game three at Chelsea 7-2. (Martha Needham/Tribune file photo)

CHELSEA, Ala. – After falling to the Hornets in game one 5-4, the Bearcats bounced back to win game two 7-1 and force a rubber match in Chelsea Saturday with a spot in the 6A quarterfinals on the line. Unfortunately for the black and gold crowd, The Hornets were able to take a big lead early and limited Cullman to just two runs on four hits to defeat the ‘Cats 7-2 and advance to the next round.

A throwing error and a 2-run triple into deep right field gave the Hornets an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first and after a scoreless second inning, Chelsea added to its lead in the third. A leadoff walk followed by a double into right field put runners on the corners and a fielder’s choice brought the fourth run home for the Hornets. An RBI single up the middle plated two more runs and Chelsea led the way 6-0 going into the fourth. A two-out single gave the Hornets another run in the bottom of the fourth and the ‘Cats trailed 7-0 going into the fifth but that’s when Cullman was finally able to put some hits together and cut into the lead.

Jake Dueland was hit by a pitch to give the Bearcats a base runner and after a balk allowed him to advance to third, Paxton Ponder drilled a ground ball to third and reached first on an error, allowing Dueland to score and make it 7-1. A few pitches later, Matt Brock drove a double into right field to bring in Ponder and trim the lead to 7-2 going into the bottom half of the fifth.

Tucker Apel took the mound for Cullman and retired the first three batters he faced on just seven pitches to get the ‘Cats back in the dugout and back at the plate trailing by five. Max Dueland laced a two-out single into left field to give the Bearcats a runner in the top of the sixth, but a fielder’s choice got the Hornets out of the inning with their lead intact.

Apel made quick work of Chelsea in the bottom half of the sixth with just nine more pitches but Cullman was headed to the top of the seventh trailing 7-2 and down to its final three outs. Zac Edwards roped a single up the middle to put a runner on first with one out but after Ponder drove a fly ball just short of the fence in right field to make it two outs, a strikeout ended the season for the Bearcats in round two with a 7-2 loss to the Hornets.

Brock finished with a hit and an RBI for Cullman in the loss and Edwards, Max Dueland and Kaleb Heatherly each added a hit as well.

The Bearcats finished another strong season with a 28-13 record, another area championship and will no doubt be back next spring to make another postseason run.

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