Blue Devils fall to Corner in second round

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Photo: Etowah High’s Slade St. Clair steals second base as Corner’s Daven Lee covers during the Blue Devils’ loss in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs on Thursday, April 25 in Dora. (Photo courtesy of Vasha Hunt for preps@al.com)

By Chris McCarthy/Publisher/Editor

The Etowah High baseball team’s defense of its state championship was cut short on Thursday, April 25 in Dora.
Facing Corner in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs, the Blue Devils lost 5-4 and 9-1 to end their season at 20-11.
Trailing 5-4 in the top of the seventh in game 1, Etowah put the tying run on base when Slade St. Clair led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. But St. Clair did not make it any further, as Dora pitcher Brendan Conner induced a fly out to centerfield and a groundout to second to put the Blue Devils in an 0-1 series deficit.
“It was a tough loss, but it was a great baseball game,” said Etowah head coach Blake Bone. “It just didn’t work out for us. That type of loss is hard to recover from in high school baseball with just 30 minutes until game 2. It was similar to last year when [Corner] lost to us in the second round. Game 1 was really close and game 2 was a runaway. It’s very tough for 16 and 17-year old kids to recover from.”
Game 2 starter Eli Cannon had Etowah’s number in the nightcap. In a complete-game effort, he allowed two hits, no earned runs and two walks while striking out five. He retired the side in order in the first, sixth and seventh innings and benefitted from a lineup that touched the Blue Devil pitchers for 13 hits.
“[Cannon] located well and kept us off-balance,” said Bone. “(Etowah game 2 starter) Jameson Scissum] was getting up in his pitch count and was getting a little tired, so we had to take him out (in the fourth inning).”
In the opener, Etowah took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third when Jameson Scissum stroked an RBI double and later scored on a wild pitch.
The Yellow Jackets (26-6) trimmed the lead to one run with Carson Hurley’s run-scoring double in the bottom of the fourth and went ahead 3-2 in the next inning when Cannon and Conner both scored off errors.
The Blue Devils put across a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, the first on Bodie Bennett’s steal of home and the second on Bradley Pledger’s score off an error.
That 4-3 lead lasted for two-thirds of an inning. A base hit from Cannon and a walk by Brodie Dunlap set the table for Cole Rasbury, who singled in Cannon, and Tyson Hill, whose base hit plated Dunlap for the winning run.
St. Clair went 3-for-4 with a run scored, while Scissum had a hit, an RBI and a run scored. Bennett had three stolen bases.
While the Corner offense built a 6-0 lead through five innings, Etowah did not get on the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth, when Bennett Reeves worked a full-count walk and scored on Cash Hayes’ two-out base hit. That was all the Blue Devils would manage the rest of the way, however. Cannon sent down the Blue Devils in order in the sixth and seventh innings, securing the sweep for the Yellow Jackets and giving Etowah a long bus ride back to Attalla.
Bone acknowledged the contribution of the team’s two upperclassmen starters this season.
“I thought our seniors really showed out during the playoffs. Slade hit really well and played some great defense. Coming from playing a mainly defensive role last year, I though Bodie (Bennett) did a great job in the role of an everyday player. You hate it for them not to experience a state championship as seniors, but those two guys are about as great of individual people that you’ll ever be around.”

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