DAPHNE — Displaying the sound fundamentals of a more experienced team, and getting solid pitching performances from starter David Hudson and reliever L.A. Goree in the nightcap, Bibb County eliminated Spanish Fort from the 5A state playoffs …
DAPHNE — Displaying the sound fundamentals of a more experienced team, and getting solid pitching performances from starter David Hudson and reliever L.A. Goree in the nightcap, Bibb County eliminated Spanish Fort from the 5A state playoffs beating the Toros 6-1 and 8-6 in the quarterfinals at the Bayside Academy Sports Complex in Daphne.
The patient Choctaws, with an all-right-handed batting order, took the ball to the right side 14 times in 60 plate appearances during the two games.
Designated hitter D.A. Mack had the biggest opposite field blow, a bases-loaded double in a four-run first inning that erased momentum the Toros appeared to have regained in the second game.
The Toros started the game with a three-run inning.
Right-hander Hudson stymied the Spanish Fort bats with a four-hitter in the first game, blanking the Toros until the seventh inning to improve to 12-3. Goree moved from shortstop to the mound in the second game to quell a third-inning Toros rally and went on to pitch the final four-and-one-third innings to get the win.
“They were just a stronger baseball team. They just had bigger, stronger guys than we did right now,” SFHS coach Tommy Walker said. “Our (fly) balls would get caught and their golf balls would go for doubles. The first game, (pitcher) Gil (Walker) threw fine; they just hit every mistake, and every time Jay (Myrick) mislocated (in the second game), they hit every mistake.
“They’re a good team. They’re a very, very good team and they’ve got tradition,” Walker the coach said. “We’ve built a little bit (of tradition) this year. Man, I’ve got nothing but good things to say about our kids. We battled (back in both games). We never quit”
Both teams left the field with 33-8 records. Spanish Fort achieved its success, which included being ranked as high as No. 2 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association 5A poll, without the benefit of a senior class in its second season of existence.
The Choctaws, state champions in 2001 and runners-up the next two seasons, moved on to the quarterfinals to face St. Paul’s of Mobile.
The games were played at the Bayside Academy Sports Complex since Loxley Municipal Park , Spanish Fort’s home site until the Toros get their own field next year, was hosting the Panhandle Christian Conference Baseball Tournament.
The first game was a pitching duel between Hudson and Walker for the first three innings. Goree’s leadoff single to center field in the fourth led to the game’s first run. Goree, on Ben Jones’ grounder to SFHS shortstop Myrick, beat the throw to second but Dustin Smitherman’s pivot throw to first got Jones.
Colby Vowell’s double over Toros centerfielder Ryan Day drove Goree home. Cannon McDonald followed with a ground single to left, Vowell stopping at third. Walker struck out Tyler Owens and got designated hitter D.A. Mack to pop out to Smitherman to end the inning.
Goree also started Bibb County’s five-run sixth inning with a single to left. Walker chose to try to get Goree at second when Jones dropped down a sacrifice bunt, but his throw was too late. Vowell followed with an RBI single to left on which Logan Rogers just missed making a diving catch, then after McDonald struck out, Owens walked and Mack stroked a two-run single
Hudson struck out, but Justin Nichols’ opposite-field single plated Owens. Pinch runner David Watkins scored from seconds moments later on Myrick’s errant pickoff attempt to first.
Patrick McGavin’s leadoff double in the seventh and his adept baserunning shortly afterward helped Spanish Fort avoid a shutout loss. Myrick’s bouncer was fielded by Hudson, who threw to Goree in an attempt to get McGavin, but McGavin made it back to second safely. Day followed with an RBI single to right.
That would be it for the Toros against Hudson, who retired John Hollingsworth on a foul ball to catcher Jeremy Hobson, struck out Hunter Anderson and enticed a ground out to third from Rogers to end the game. Hudson struck out five batters, walked two and hit one.
Myrick pitched the first six innings for the Toros and gave up nine hits, struck out seven and walked one. Evan Chadwell pitched the seventh, allowing a hit and a walk with one strikeout.
Vowell went 3-for-4 to lead Bibb County. Goree and Mack had two hits each.
Playing as the home team in the second game, Bibb County spotted Spanish Fort three runs in the first, then scored four runs in each of its first two at bats and held off the Toros to complete the sweep.
Rogers started the SFHS rally with a leadoff triple to right-center and scored when Myrick bounced a single to right field. Myrick stole second without a throw from Hobson and scored after Smitherman and Chadwell both grounded out to BCHS second baseman Owens.
Walker walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored when Hudson, playing third base, couldn’t come up with McGavin’s grounder.
Consecutive one-out singles by Goree, Jones and Vowell, a passed ball, a walk and Mack’s three-run double produced Bibb County’s go-ahead rally. Nichols’ leadoff triple to left in the second, a fly ball that Day appeared to lose in the bright, changing late-afternoon sky, started Bibb County’s second-inning rally.
Underwood was hit by a pitch, then Goree sent Nichols home with a sacrifice fly to right. Underwood stole second and scored from there on Jones’ infield single after SFHS second Hollinsworth made a diving stop on the ball.
A bloop base hit to left by Vowell, back-to-back grounders to shortstop that were misplayed by Tucker Norman and then Myrick after he was relieved by McGavin, and Mack’s grounder that forced McDonald at third sent Bibb County’s last two runs home.
McGavin no-hit the Choctaws over the final four-and-two-thirds innings to give Spanish Fort a chance to even the series. He struck out three batters and walked one after Myrick was tagged for seven hits and seven earned runs in an inning-and-one-third. Myrick struck out three batters and walked one.
McDonald, who started on the mound for Bibb County, walked Myrick leading off the third and hit Chadwell with one out to set up Spanish Fort’s next two runs. Myrick went all the way to third on a wild pitch and scored on another errant toss by McDonald. Singles by Walker and McGavin moved Chadwell to third and Day plated him with a sacrifice fly to center.
A one-out single by Rogers leading off the sixth followed by a walk to Myrick and base hits by Smitherman and Chadwell made it a two-run game, but but two baserunning errors derailed the rally. Myrick was tagged out in a rundown between second and third after Smitherman’s hit and Smitherman was thrown out at the plate attempting to score on Chadwell’s single.