DAPHNE — Senior Mikael Bryant and sophomore Nate Crooms teamed up for a Game 2 no-hitter to complement a pair of run-rule wins and clinch Bayshore Christian’s spot in the second round of …
DAPHNE — Senior Mikael Bryant and sophomore Nate Crooms teamed up for a Game 2 no-hitter to complement a pair of run-rule wins and clinch Bayshore Christian’s spot in the second round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 2A playoffs with a sweep of the Ranburne Bulldogs.
The host Eagles, two-time defending Class 1A champions, won both Game 1 (10-0) and Game 2 (14-0) in only five innings. Bayshore Christian advances to face the winner of the Cottonwood-Pike Liberal series that was even after Friday’s doubleheader.
In their first three seasons of postseason eligibility, the Eagles have now started each playoff tournament with a first-round sweep following run-rule wins. Last spring, it started an undefeated run to the state title where Bryant completed another pitching feat in the state quarterfinals.
On his birthday, Bryant racked up nine strikeouts en route to a four-inning perfect game to help his squad sweep its way back to the state semifinals.
Familiar faces deal damage
This spring has many familiar faces from last year’s team, including sophomore Cole Dean who delivered a complete-game effort to help preserve some of Bayshore Christian’s pitching staff.
“Cole Dean gave us a solid performance in Game 1 and he gave up only four hits,” Eagle head coach Jeff Hauge said after the series. “He gave us a solid performance, pitched a shutout and that's what you need in these types of situations.”
Dean supplemented that outing with a pair of triples on the ledger and also reached on an error where he pulled into third base standing up. He was responsible for driving in five runs in the clinching victory.
“Cole barreled up a bunch of balls today. It's good to see him swing it like that,” Hauge said. “We had some loud outs today, we really did. We hit some balls on the nose right at some guys so just real proud of the way we approached at the plate.”
Consistent approach pushes win streak to a dozen
That approach has apparently been quite consistent as it led to Bayshore Christian’s 12th win in a row Friday. Seniors Will Nance and Riley Malone both recorded two-hit days in the first game where senior John Malone and sophomore Joel Chandler did the same in the second game.
“I always feel confident with the guys in the way we pitch, the way we play defense and the way we swing the sticks,” Hauge said. “We're going to have a chance every night out.”
Since the beginning of March, the Eagles have gone 17-3 and haven’t lost since March 21 when the Har-Ber Wildcats from Arkansas earned a 7-3 decision during the Gulf Coast Classic tournament. Har-Ber used that win to spark a 13-2 run of its own and owned a four-game win streak heading into a Saturday non-conference game.
Home cooking starts off postseason on right note
Another streak that was extended Friday was Bayshore Christian’s string of wins on its home field at Coastal Church in Daphne. All nine games the Eagles have played on their turf this season have ended victoriously.
“You want to be at home and be in front of the home crowd at the beginning of a playoff run, we just love playing here at Coastal Church,” Hauge said. “We had a nice crowd here today, so these young men have done a phenomenal job of building a following as well. People love watching them play baseball and that's what I enjoy too.”
Other first-round scores
Bayshore Christian joined Bayside Academy in representing Baldwin County with a punched ticket to the second round of the AHSAA playoffs. The Admirals swept their Class 4A first-round series Thursday at home over Handley (15-9 and 3-0) and were awaiting the winner of the Bibb County-Slocomb series.
Elberta, Gulf Shores and Baldwin County were all on the other side of the sweeping broom Friday and found the end of the road. On the Class 5A stage, the Warriors fell to Sylacauga (1-0 and 4-2) and the Dolphins were swept by Shelby County (7-4 and 9-4). In the Class 6A bracket, the Tigers couldn’t overcome Briarwood Christian (13-3, 3-1).
The Spanish Fort Toros lost the first game of their Class 6A first-round series with McAdory 3-2 but bounced back with a 7-1 win in the nightcap to extend their postseason, for now. Game 3 was set for Saturday at 1 p.m.
On the Alabama Independent School Association circuit, the Snook Christian Eagles secured a home sweep of Meadowview to advance to the second round of the Class A state tournament. Snook won Game 1 5-2 behind a complete-game, 14-strikeout effort from Jayson Kidwell then finished things with a 12-0 win in Game 2 with two RBIs each from Philip Butts, Hayden Joiner and Robert Dunn.
The Eagles were set to meet Coosa Valley in the second round with a trip to the state semifinals on the line.
In action that closed the regular season in Class 7A this week, the Fairhope Pirates topped the Daphne Trojans for the Area 2 title. Fairhope was set to draw Area 4 runner-up Russell County and Daphne was set to match up with the Area 4 winner Pike Road.
“I feel good about these guys; they show up to practice each and every day and they show up to play each and every day. They give us great effort and that's all I can ask for,” Hauge said. “I love this team, I love how they approach each and every day, whether it's practice or whether it's games, and they play hard and they play hard for each other.”