By Stan Veitch/Sports Correspondent
The doubleheader that comprised Southside’s losses on Friday (May 13) in the semifinals of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 6A playoffs were two totally different styles of games – but both ended with Cullman winning and advancing to this week’s championship series in Montgomery against Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa. Hillcrest beat Hueytown in the other semifinal.
The first game was a black comedy of errors for the Panthers (31-17), who finished with four errors that led to eight unearned runs in the 11-2 loss.
“The errors kept us out of the game,” Southside coach Blake Bone said. “With the errors, (Cullman) was able to play small ball and capitalize on our errors – both physical and mental.”
In the second inning, Cullman (41-11) scored five runs, but only one was earned. Southside responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning, but left a runner in scoring position – something else that became part of the theme of the game.
All in all, the Panthers left five runners on base. That number could’ve been higher but Cullman turned two double plays, one of which nipped a big Southside inning in the bud.
Daniel Sieber led off the bottom of the second with a single and Greyson Daugherty followed with a base on balls. Both runners advanced on an Adam Lister sacrifice bunt. Jacob Coker then had an RBI single.
After Weston Ball popped out and Baylon Fry came to bat, the Panthers executed a double steal that scored the second run.
Cullman scored three more runs in the third inning, and in the bottom of the frame, Southside loaded the bases with one out, only to see the Bearcats turn a textbook 5-4-3 double play.
“We had a lot of base runners in the first game,” Bone said. “But for whatever reason, we weren’t able to capitalize and score runs.”
Meanwhile, the second game was closer to a pitchers duel, as the Bearcats emerged with a 3-0 victory.
Southside’s Logan Miracle and Cullman’s Will Morrison both pitched complete games, but it was Morrison who had the run support to come out victorious.
“(Miracle) pitched great,” Bone said. “He showed me a lot, with his guts and his will power. I hate it that we couldn’t give him any support.”
The Panthers didn’t have a base runner until the fourth inning, when Jarren Wright reached on an error and Tanner Snow followed with a single. Neither had a chance to advance, however.
While Miracle allowed eight hits and struck out five, Morrison, a sophomore, gave up just two hits. He struck out nine and didn’t allow a walk while producing six 1-2-3 innings.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Bone said. “But most of that was their pitcher. He’s going to be a great one. Bottom line is that they played better than us.”