Blue Devils begin state title defense in style

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Photo: Etowah’s Tray Gaddis delivers a pitch during the Blue Devils’ two-game sweep over White Plains on Thursday, April 18 in Attalla. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Etowah defense of its Class 4A state baseball championship got off to a rousing start on Thursday, April 18.
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils (19-12) finished with 18 hits while limiting White Plains to four in an 11-1, 12-1 sweep in Attalla. Both games ended in five innings via the 10-run mercy rule.
“From a pitching standpoint, a defensive standpoint, a baserunning standpoint and a hitting standpoint, I think today was the best in terms of a playing a complete game,” said Etowah head coach Blake Bone. “It was definitely a good way to start the playoffs.”
In the doubleheader’s nine innings, Etowah starting pitchers Tray Gaddis and Jameson Scissum issued five walks while striking out seven.
“Both guys threw great,” said Bone. “One thing we had to improve on pitching-wise was the amount of walks, and having only five in both games combined was a good sign.”
The Blue Devils also wreaked havoc on the base paths with 14 steals.
“That’s part of the game that some teams don’t take advantage of, and we try to do everything we can to be aggressive but also smart in those situations. Our guys can’t not be aggressive on the base paths. If we play a little small ball, it makes the other teams’ defense play faster, which can cause them to make mistakes.”
After the Bearcats (11-20) took a 1-0 lead in Game 1, Etowah put across three runs in the second, four in the third and four more in the fifth. Bodie Bennett went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored; Slade St. Clair had a two-run triple and a run scored; and Avery Haynes had a hit, an RBI and a run scored.
In Game 2, the Blue Devils scored three runs in the third, four in the fourth and five in the fifth. Scissum retired the side in order on the fourth and fifth innings to keep White Plains at bay.
Cash Hayes went 4-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored; St Clair went 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBI and a run scored; Bennett went 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored; Bennett Reeves went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored; Scissum and Baylee Wilder each had a hit, an RBI and a run scored; and Conner Dingler had a two-RBI base hit.
“I thought our seniors really showed out offensively, especially Bodie and Slade” said Bone. “It’s always great to see your leaders in the clubhouse set the tone for the playoffs.”
The Blue Devils travel to No. 3 Corner in a second-round series starting on Thursday, April 26. Etowah swept the Yellow Jackets in the second round last year.

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