By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The opening line of Charles Dickens’ novel could have easily described the Class 3A varsity baseball state playoff matchup between Hokes Bluff High School and White Plains High School.
White Plains was a team on a mission in the rubber game of the opening round of the Class 3A state varsity baseball playoffs, pounding second-ranked Hokes Bluff in the third and deciding game, 12-0, on April 21. The loss ousted the Eagles from the playoffs.
“We didn’t play well against White Plains,” Hokes Bluff head coach Mike Robertson said. “We got off to a bad start. We made mistakes and couldn’t get the big hits.”
White Plains took a 6-0 lead after only two innings of play in the third game. Hokes Bluff starter Seth Pollard was only able two record three outs while being touched for four runs on two hits and walking three White Plains’ batters.
Chance Ford led off the second inning being hit by a pitch and Austin Drake singled. Clay Gidley then hit a line drive that caught Ford in a double play, ending the Eagle rally.
White Plains scored two runs in the first, four in the second, two in the fifth and four in the sixth inning against three Hokes Bluff pitchers.
The big blow in the game came in the sixth inning when Wildcat right fielder Nick Harris hit a three run inside-the -park homerun.
White Plains scored 12 runs off 11 hits and eight bases on balls. The Wildcats committed one error. Hokes Bluff managed five hits, while committing five errors. The Eagles were the recipients of two walks and had three hitters hit by pitches.
The two schools split the doubleheader on April 20.
White Plains downed Hokes Bluff, 7-2, in the opener. The Eagles committed four errors and gave up six unearned runs in the loss.
The Eagles appeared determined to self-destruct in the top of the first inning. Three errors, one walk and one hit allowed the Wildcats to push across three unearned runs and jump to a 3-0 lead after one inning.
The second inning was disastrous for Hokes Bluff starter Tanner Shields. Shields walked three in the inning and surrendered two singles, increasing the deficit to 6-0.
Hokes Bluff scored a run in the bottom of the third inning close the gap to 6-1. Shields lined a single with one out and advanced to second on a passed ball, then scored on a towering double by Chase Jackiel.
The Eagles also added a run in the bottom of the fourth inning on a double by Colton Shaw and a sacrifice fly by Seth Pollard.
The final White Plains run came in the top of the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Ryan Kirby and Dylan Randall.
Peyton Whitten earned the win in for White Plains, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out seven. Shields took the loss, pitching 3 1/3 innings, allowing six runs, seven walks and four strikeouts. Nick Gaghen pitched 3 2/3 innings, surrendering one run on two hits with four strikeouts.
The Eagles rebounded in the second game to take a 2-1 win in eight innings to force the third game.
Clay Gidley pitched a complete game masterpiece for Hokes Bluff to notch the win.
The Eagles jumped on Wildcat starter Zach Cunningham for a run in the top of the first inning without the benefit of a safe hit when they put together a fielding error and three walks to tally the games first run.
Cunningham struck out the first two Eagle batters and then had trouble finding the strike zone. Jackiel walked and Hawk reached on an error. Shaw walked to load the bases. Seth Ford followed with a walk to plate the game’s first run.
White Plains tied the score in the bottom of the fifth inning when Joseph Dothard singled and advanced to second on a balk by Gidley. Myles Masters delivered a pinch-hit single to tie the game at 1-1.The score remained tied at 1-1 going into the eighth inning.
Colton Shaw led off the top of the eighth inning with a walk, followed by a single by Chance Ford. Pollard laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. Gidley followed with a sacrifice fly to score Dylan Mckee, who was running for Shaw.
Gidley retired the Wildcats in order to record the complete game win.