By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Southside broke open a tight game with a seven runs over the final two inning en route to an 8-4 Class 5A, Area 13 victory over Etowah on Tuesday (Mar. 18) in Attalla.
Trailing 2-1 in the top of the sixth, the No. 2 Panthers (17-4, 1-0) used respective RBI base hits from Dantley Coker, Matt West and Blake Devine to take a 4-2 lead.
The eighth-ranked Blue Devils (15-5, 0-1) cut the deficit to one run in the bottom of the inning when Zack Pruitt led off with a single and scored on Dustin Freeman’s base hit.
That was a close as Etowah would get.
In the top of the seventh, a single by Drew Mullinax and a walk from Brock Love set up Hunter Clough’s RBI base hit, while Kyle Steward’s sacrifice fly made it a 6-4 advantage.
Two-out singles from Coker, West and Devine later in the inning pushed the visitors’ lead to five runs.
Robinson walked and scored on Pruitt’s base hit in the bottom of the seventh for the game’s final run.
In five and two-thirds innings, Mullinax allowed three runs, three walks and eight hits while striking out three to notch the win.
Braxton Light fanned one while allowing a run, a hit and a walk in relief.
“Drew did his job and kept us in the game,” said Southside head coach Blake Bone. “He’s a competitor who he gives us a chance to win every time he goes to the mound.”
At the plate for the Panthers, Coker went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Devine went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
West and Steward each went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Mullinax went 2-for-3, while Clough had a hit, an RBI and three runs scored.
“The biggest thing for us in [the sixth] inning was a hustle play when Dantley busted to first [base] on a double play ball. It allowed us to tie the game and tack on another run. It was nice to put a few more runs across in the [seventh] inning to get a little bit of a cushion.
In five and two-thirds innings, Etowah starter Dylan Capes struck out four while allowing four runs, eight hits and three walks.
Pruitt went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Robinson went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
Paul Ruiz went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
The Panthers opened the scoring on Coker’s RBI single in the top of the second. Etowah tied the score in the bottom of the third when Cody Ledbetter doubled and scored on Robinson’s base hit.
The hosts took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth when Robinson singled in Ruiz.
“We did a good enough job through the first few innings,” said Etowah head coach Larry Foster. “But we ended up giving away seven runs in two innings, and that’s not a good thing. [Southside] has a good ball club, and they can win in a lot of different ways. They hit the ball when they needed to and we had some opportunities where we didn’t hit it. But we have a lot of area games coming up and we’ll play them again.”