By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
For the first time in five years, the Gadsden City High School baseball team will participate in the postseason.
The Titans’ 14-13 come from behind victory over Class 7A, Area 7 rival Sparkman on Apr. 19 in Gadsden clinched second place in the area and a berth in the state playoffs. The Titans visit No. 1 Bob Jones this Friday (Apr. 29) an opening doubleheader for a best-of-three series.
After losing last week’s opening game to the Senators, 19-7, GCHS (10-19) rallied from deficits of 8-1 and 12-6 to post a 14-13 victory in the nightcap. Austin Brewer’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning plated Jackson Livengood with the winning run.
GCHS head coach Blake Bone, who guided the Southside High baseball program for 10 years, admitted that he had not experienced such a high level of intensity and excitement in his coaching career.
“After getting our tails beat in the first game and being down by so many runs [in game 2], it was really something I’d never been through before. For our guys to battle back and pull it out in the end was just amazing. Our kids very easily could have quit but they keep fighting back, and that’s a testament to how hard these guys have worked all year. With all of the injuries we’ve had, it was a lot of adversity to overcome. We went through a lot of turmoil early on, and it paid off in the end.”
The field conditions at the Gadsden Sports Complex were less than ideal. Bone and his staff arrived at the facility early Friday morning, and over 1,000 gallons of water had been pumped off the field by mid-afternoon.
“There was so much going on in terms of the prom on Saturday and the availability of officials that we really had to get those games in on Friday,” said Bone. “Even after all that work on the field, the conditions definitely were still not in our favor, and we had about a 30-mile an hour wind blowing out the whole game. But in the end, it was worth all the time and effort we put in to get [the field] ready to play on.”
Bone pointed to his team’s level of confidence as a major factor in the Titans’ 2019 revival.
“As hard as it got throughout the year, these kids never quit believing that they could do this. I don’t think that they’ve ever questioned that they could win. They always felt that they had a chance in every game.”
Bone noted that he had never coached a team that suffered so many injuries in one season as did his inaugural GCHS squad Toward that end, he kept assuring his players that once the team was relatively healthy, things would turn around.
“We were having eight or nine guys hurt at one time. It seemed like every time we showed up at the ballpark, somebody was out, whether it was a JV or varsity player, and a lot of them were strange types of injuries that you never see. We had guys injured at just about every position and
were basically piecing things together as we went. But we told our guys that there would never be so much on the plate that we couldn’t handle, and they kept buying into that.”
Bone pointed to the Titans’ six-member senior class of Livengood, Josh Kelley, Baylor Partridge, Griffin Singleton, Braxton Parrish and Aaron Nesbitt as a key element in the team’s recent success.
“I don’t know where we would have been without those guys. It takes older leadership to keep a team afloat when times are tough, and this group definitely did that for us. They showed the will not to give up and refused to lose, and our younger guys fed into that. When your upperclassmen lead by example, it extends to everyone else.”
Bone is confident that his team will not be intimidated at the prospect of facing the top-ranked Patriots this weekend in Madison.
“Our mantra has been ‘Why not us?’ For us to pull it off like we did [against Sparkman], it could be scary for other teams. Bob Jones is a great team and it’s a tall task, but we’re looking forward to the challenge. Our guys want more, so we’re going to load up on Friday and see what we can do.”