By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
Southside High School took a giant step toward a Class 5A, Area 12 baseball title with a 12-2 victory over Etowah High School on April 10 Larry Foster Field in Attalla.
The teams are scheduled to play on Thursday at Southside to determine the Class 5A, Area 12 champion. Both teams were 3-1 in area play heading into Tuesday’s match. Southside holds the advantage in the area standings with the win, but Etowah could even the score with a win on Thursday and force a deciding third game [immediately following] to determine the area champion.
“This was game one in the series to determine the winner of the area,” said Southside head coach Blake Bone. “We play [each other] again at home on Thursday and can seal the deal with a win.”
Etowah took a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Chris Steele opened the inning with a walk followed by Colby Dunn’s single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Josh Bobo drove in the game’s first run with a ground out fielder’s choice to the shortstop. John Coggins singled in the Blue Devils’ second run, giving Etowah a 2-0 after one inning of play.
Southside exploded for five runs in the top of the second inning on only two hits to take the lead for good at 5-2.
Drew Mullinax and Brock Love each walked with one out. Cody Pylant reached on an error, scoring Southside’s first run. Connor Paulson also reached on an error by the Blue Devils, tying the game at 2-2. Andrew Fuhrman singled to drive in Pylant, giving Southside a 3-2 lead. Caleb Butler delivered a single to drive in two runs giving Southside a 5-2 lead.
Southside added four runs in the fourth inning followed by single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Connor Paulson singled with one out in the top of the fourth, followed by an RBI double by Fuhrman. Light then singled to score Fuhrman. Butler walked and Snow followed with an RBI double. Blake Devine flew out to deep centerfield to drive in Butler giving Southside a 9-2 lead.
Southside pitcher Alex Pondick earned the win. Pondick scattered five hits over seven innings while striking out eight and walking only one. Colby Dunn took the loss for Etowah pitching only three and one third innings, giving up eight runs on seven hits.
Bone praised Pondick’s efforts on the mound.
“We got a solid performance from starter Alex. He was a little shaky in the first inning but settled down once he got his fastball located in the strike zone. He has been a solid performer all year and has some big wins for us.”
Offensively, the top of the Panthers’ lineup bruised the Blue Devils. Andrew Fuhrman who went 3-4 while driving in two runs. Braxton Light was also 3-4 with two RBIs and Caleb Butler who was 2-4 while driving in three Panther runs.
Round two of the series will be Thursday at Southside with the area title and home field advantage for the upcoming playoffs awaiting the winner. Southside is one win away while Etowah must win a double header to take the crown.
Southside improved its record to 16-13, 4-1, while Etowah dropped to 12-18, 3-2.
The first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Thursday at Southside.