PREP BASEBALL: Cullman collects 6-3 area win over Decatur

The Bearcats split the first two matchups of their playoff series at Mortimer Jordan Thursday night and will return for game three Friday at 3 p.m. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – After picking up a road win at Buckhorn Monday night, the Bearcats returned home to Bill Shelton Field Tuesday to open up area play against Decatur. The Red Raiders took an early lead but the ‘Cats rallied in the later innings to pull away and collect a 6-3 area win.

Decatur took a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly in the top of the second, but the Bearcats were able to get the run back in the bottom half of the inning. Cole Floyd and Elijah Hayes led off the inning with back to back singles and Tucker Cagle drew a walk to load the bases. Three pitches later, Zane Watwood put one in play to bring Floyd home on a fielder’s choice and tie the game at 1 going into the third.

Cagle worked his way through a scoreless top half of the third and the Bearcats took their first lead of the night in their half of the inning. Paxton Ponder smashed a double off the left-center field wall to give the ‘Cats a runner in scoring position and Floyd punched a single into right field later in the inning to plate Ponder and put Cullman ahead 2-1. A single off the bat of Hayes allowed Floyd to advance to third and Floyd scored on a double steal play a few pitches later to give the Bearcats a 3-1 lead headed into the fourth.

After a scoreless fourth inning, Decatur pushed a pair of runs across in the top of the fifth to tie the game at 3. However, Cullman responded in the bottom half of the fifth. An error allowed Ponder to advance all the way to third and he scored on a passed ball a few pitches later to put the ‘Cats back in front 4-3. Riley Jackson drew a walk, Hayes doubled into left field and Watwood was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Hunter Howell later in the inning and he drew a walk to bring in another run and make it a 5-3 game after five innings.

After putting one off the wall earlier in the game, Ponder continued to see the ball well and drove a home run over the right field wall in the sixth to stretch Cullman’s lead to 6-3. The ‘Cats collected the final three outs in the top of the seventh to secure a 6-3 win and a 1-0 start in area play.

Cagle got the start on the mound for the Bearcats and pitched 4.1 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and striking out five. Jackson tossed the final 2.2 innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three.

At the plate, Ponder (HR) and Hayes each led the way with three hits in the win. Floyd (RBI) added a pair of hits and Watwood and Howell each posted RBIs as well.

Cullman will head to Decatur to finish the series Thursday night.

Copyright 2023 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.