Courtesy of Florence Times-Daily
Russellville swept Etowah, 7-3 and 7-3, last Friday (Apr. 20) in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
The three-time defending state champion Golden Tigers (24-12) advanced to the second round against Lee-Huntsville this Friday (Aug. 27), while the Blue Devils’ season ended at 25-11.
Etowah head coach Larry Foster recognized his team had a tough first-round draw.
“We didn’t have a good day at the plate, but you may not have a good day when you face two arms like that,” he said of Ezzell and Fernandez. “They’ve got a good baseball team and a lot of tradition.”
Foster said his team did its best trying to piece together a pitching rotation this season and ended up having a good year. But Russellville was a little too much.
“Until [Russellville] plays a really good team that can control the game with their pitchers, they’re not going to get beat,” he said.
Russellville had an opportunity to panic with Etowah’s David Rutledge and Austin Young scoring in the first inning of the opener.
But the Golden Tigers responded with four runs in the third inning, and Russellville seemed in control of the series the rest of the day.
Landon Ezzell hit a two-run homer to center and Tom Barkley Scott added an RBI single to finish off game one. Ezzell also earned the win on the mound in a complete game effort.
Rudy Fernandez hurt Etowah with his curveball in the second game, and it factored heavily into him getting six strikeouts. He helped his cause with a three-run home run seventh inning.
Kam Wilson pitched into the fourth inning of game 2 before four relievers followed.