Blue Devils rally past Gadsden City

Etowah’s Kyle Underwood get set to deliver a pitch as Gadsden City’s Trace Cromer leads off second base during the Blue Devils’ 6-4 victory in high school baseball on Tuesday (Mar. 4) in Attalla. Etowah’s Kyle Underwood get set to deliver a pitch as Gadsden City’s Trace Cromer leads off second base during the Blue Devils’ 6-4 victory in high school baseball on Tuesday (Mar. 4) in Attalla.

By Chris McCarthy/Editor

A five-run inning sparked Etowah to a 6-4 victory over
Gadsden City in high school baseball on Tuesday (Mar. 4) at Larry Foster Field
in Attalla.

Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Blue Devils
(7-3) quickly got runners in scoring position when Caleb Ledbetter and Dustin
Robinson reached base on errors and Chris Steele walked.

Braxton Wood’s full-count walk made it 4-2, and Zac Pruitt’s
single plated two runs to tie the game.

Wood scored the eventual winning run when G.Q. Hardwick hit
into a fielder’s choice. Devin Freeman’s base hit brought in Hardwick later in
the inning for an insurance run.

Robinson earned the win when he sent the Titans (6-5) down
in order in the top of the seventh.

Pruitt went 2-for-3 with two RBI, while Ledbetter, Robinson
and Freeman each had a hit, an RBI and a run scored. In two innings of work,
Robinson struck out one while allowing three hits, one earned run and one walk.

“We hit the ball pretty well in that one inning,” said EHS
head coach Larry Foster. “Their pitcher (Neal Collins) threw a good ballgame,
and he probably got tired by that time. Two bunts cost us four runs, and you
can’t let that happen and expect to win. We’ve got some good ball players;
we’ve just got to go out there and not make defensive mistakes.”

In five and one-third innings, Collins struck out 10 and
walked two while allowing four hits and two earned runs.

At the plate for Gadsden City, Matthew Bishop and J.T. Cross each went
2-for-4. Bishop had two RBI, while Cross had an RBI and a run scored.

“Neal’s pitch count got up a little bit, and some errors
hurt us late in the game,” said GCHS head coach Todd Lamberth, who played
baseball for Foster at Etowah. “Right now with two of our top four pitchers
out, we don’t have much depth in the bullpen. I wanted to keep Neil around 100
pitches, and he had 106 going into the [sixth] inning, so I extended him a
little longer than I would have liked to.

“But you have to tip your hat to Etowah. They fought hard
and put the ball in play when they had to. We didn’t have a lot of errors, but
the ones we did make wound up hurting us. Jay Copeland’s the heartbeat of this
team, and he’s out for the next three or four weeks. Until we get him back,
we’re just going to have to scratch and claw and make things happen.”

Collins breezed through the first four innings, allowing
just two baserunners and one hit. He retired eight straight batters at one
point.

The Titans got on the scoreboard in the top of the second
when Collins scored on Campbell Partridge’s base hit.

Gadsden City went ahead 2-0 in the fifth when Cross tripled
and scored on Bishop’s single.

Etowah drew within 2-1 in the bottom of the inning on
Pruitt’s RBI single and could have gotten more, but with no outs and runners on
second and third, Collins fanned three straight batters to end the inning.

The visitors then regained their two-run advantage courtesy
of respective RBI base hits from Cross and Bishop.

Helped by three GCHS fielding errors, however, the Blue
Devils rallied for the win in the bottom of the inning.

“I’ve been on the other end of games like this, so it works
both ways,” said Foster. “If you make the plays, you win; if you don’t, you get
beat.” 

 
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