By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter
A walk-off victory in last Thursday’s top-10 showdown allowed the Boaz Pirates to sail away with the Class 5A, Area 13 baseball championship.
The No. 5 Pirates scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to stun No. 6 Etowah, 6-5, at Pirate Park and claim their first area title since 2011.
Winners of 15 of their last 17 games, the Pirates (24-7, 8-0) host Brooks in the opening round of the 5A state playoffs next week.
Etowah will travel to No. 7 Russellville in the first round. Russellville is the three-time defending 5A state champion.
Leadoff batter Jacob Smith launched Boaz’s improbable seventh-inning rally with a one-out single to right field.
Etowah head coach Larry Foster then pulled starting pitcher Will Hotalen and replaced him with Britain Nance, who gave up a single to Easton Hardin. Foster changed pitchers again, bringing in Dylan Robinson. Michael Gilliland drew a walk, loading the bases.
Foster then made his third pitching change of the inning, relieving Robinson with David Rutledge.
Parker Childers earned a walk, forcing home Smith to make it 5-3. With Holland at the plate, Hardin raced home on a wild pitch, cutting it to 5-4.
The wild pitch put runners on second and third for Holland, who stroked a single up the middle. Garrett Bright – who was pinch running for Childers – sprinted home from second, sliding across the plate with the decisive run.
Etowah built a 4-0 lead midway through the contest.
Austin Young’s RBI double made it 1-0 in the top of the first inning.
The Blue Devils tacked on three runs in their half of the fourth frame. Zack Jones blasted a leadoff double into the left-field corner and scored on Dylan Robinson’s one-out single up the middle. Dylan Robinson scored off a throwing error when the Pirates failed to retire him after catching him in a rundown.
Hotalen singled, and Dalton Robinson’s base hit plated Hotalen to make it 4-0.
Boaz received back-to-back solo homers from Childers and Holland leading off the bottom of the fourth, trimming it to 4-2.
Jarren Wright started the fifth inning by doubling off the center-field fence. Bryson Bone drove him in with a two-out single to left, increasing Etowah’s advantage to 5-2.