PREP BASEBALL PLAYOFFS: Bearcats preparing for round 3 clash with Gardendale

The Cullman Bearcats will host Gardendale for the round three of the 6A state playoffs at Bill Shelton Field Thursday night starting at 4:30 p.m. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – After toppling Mortimer Jordan on the road in round one and sweeping past Athens in round two, the Cullman Bearcats are set to return to Bill Shelton Field Thursday night to host Gardendale in round three. Gardendale won a very tight series with Pell City in round one and handled Hazel Green in round two to advance and Head Coach Brent Patterson knows the Rockets will present plenty of challenges for the ‘Cats in this series.

“They’re well-rounded, very solid all over, incredibly competitive with a group of guys that just know how to win and really want to win, and they are fantastic offensively,” Patterson said. “They’ve got two division one hitters in the heart of the lineup, and they’re surrounded with guys that know how to have at-bats. They know how to hit with two strikes and they’re a fantastic offensive team. So, we’re going to have to be really, really good defensively and on the mound to give ourselves a chance.”

Coming off a series against Athens in which they only allowed three runs in two games, Patterson likes the way his team is playing defensively and on the mound. He’s also seen the Bearcats continue to develop offensively each week and is excited to see how much further they can take it.

“We’re defending it really well, and we’re pitching it pretty good, and I think that every week that goes by we learn a little more about who we really are as the identity of our team.,” Patterson said. “It really did take a while and we’re not spectacular offensively by any means but we’re learning how to manufacture runs and put innings together the way we can with our lineup, so I like where we are. Really, we’re just thankful we get to keep practicing in May with this kind of weather and to just keep going.”

The Bearcats have been doing a great job of keeping opponents off the board, but Gardendale’s bats have been hot all season so something will have to give when they clash Thursday night. Game one is set for 4:30 p.m. with game two to follow. Game three will be Friday night at 6 p.m. if necessary.

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