Photo: Etowah High’s A.J. Young scores a second-inning run during Blue Devils’ 13-3 loss to Boaz last Tuesday (Apr. 10) in Attalla. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy
The Etowah High baseball team took one on the chin last Tuesday (Apr. 10) in Attalla.
Boaz senior Michael Gilliland torched the Class 5A No. 5 Blue Devils on the mound and at the plate to lead the Pirates to a 13-3 Area 13 victory in five innings.
Gilliland held the hosts to three hits over the first four innings and belted a pair of home runs, the second being a fifth-inning grand slam that shut the door on any potential Blue Devil rally. He ended up going 2-for-3 with six RBI and three runs scored.
“That’s what’s called an old-fashioned butt-kicking,” said EHS head coach Larry Foster. “We weren’t ready to play, and that’s my fault. When you get embarrassed like that, it’s reflects on the coach, the program, the parents and everybody.”
In five innings, Gilliland scattered seven hits while striking out six and walking none.
“He’s probably the best [pitcher] we’ve faced this year, and we knew that coming in,” said Foster. “He’s also a pretty good hitter.”
Boaz (23-7) racked up 11 hits against three Etowah pitchers. Gilliland’s two-run dinger in the top of the first inning gave the visitors a quick 2-0 lead.
The Blue Devils (24-8) cut it to 2-1 in the bottom of the second on Zac Jones RBI double, but Gilliland fanned the next three batters to end the inning. He retired six straight batters from the third through the fifth innings.
Meanwhile, the Pirates pushed across six runs in the third, highlighted by Jaden Hornbuckle’s three-run double.
Parker Childers’ solo home run on the fourth made it 9-0, while Gilliland grand slam in the top of the fifth put the hosts on a 12-run hole.
Etowah finally broke through in the bottom of the inning. Dylan Robinson singled and scored on Hunter Smalley’s base hit and Smalley came home courtesy of Will Farmer RBI sacrifice fly. Jarren Wright and David Rutledge singled later in the inning, but Gilliland got the final out to end the game on the 10-run mercy rule.
Smalley went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored. For Boaz, Logan Bailey went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, while Childers and Jared Smith each went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.
Etowah, which already has clinched a playoff berth, now must sweep a doubleheader at Boaz on Thursday in order to win a second straight area title, a task that EHS head coach Larry Foster believes his squad can accomplish.
“We’ve got to win two [games] up there, and hopefully we’ll be ready to play,” said Foster. “This isn’t the first time this has happened, and the kids have to understand that you have to play the game the right way. We’ll be better next time.”