Messenger file photo by Alex Chaney
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Hokes Bluff simply ran out of steam in the second round of the Class 3A state baseball playoffs on April 29.
After nearly rallying from a seven-run deficit in their final at-bat in Game 1 of the series, the Eagles (21-13) lost by a score3 of 14-13. Hokes Bluff has no answer for the Red Devils in the nightcap, as Elkmont totaled 18 hits, including eight for extra bases in a 21-0 victory in five innings.
We had [Elkmont] on the ropes in that first game, but it just didn’t happen,” said Hokes Bluff head coach Jake Ball. “Playing in a pretty hostile environment, our kids handled it pretty well. They kept string at-bats together and didn’t give up.”
With Hokes Bluff trailing 14-7 in the top of the seventh, leadoff hitter Coleman McGinnis deposited a 1-1 pitch over the left-centerfield wall. Colten Shields then scored on an RBI groundout and Brayson Hayes drew a bases-loaded walk to draw the Eagles within 14-10.
Glavine Lamberth’s single in the next at-bat plated Anderson Morgan and Bryce Whitaker. Hayes then came home on a bases-loaded walk by Dawson Teague to cut the deficit to one run, but reliever Curtis Hobbs struck out the next batter to end the game.
“We battled and battled and battled in that last inning and had [Elkmont] reeling. They were depleted, and if we could have tied it or even taken the lead at that point, I really believe that we had a really good chance to win that series. But they got that last out to end the game and came out in the second game with all the momentum and smelled blood in the water and pounded us.”
Hokes Bluff took the early lead on Lamberth’s RBI single in the top of the first. That advantage was lost in the bottom of the second when Elkmont pushed across four runs.
The Eagles regained lead in the top of fourth inning by scoring five runs, all with two outs. Westin Day and Cole Stone both scored on an error to tie the game at 4-4, while Hayes singled in Morgan Whitaker scored off an error and Hayes came home on Lamberth’s base hit for a 7-4 lead.
But the Red Devils responded with eight runs in the bottom of the inning and another two in the fifth, putting the Eagles in a seven-run hole they could not quite climb out of.
At the plate, Lamberth (pictured above) went 3-for-5 with five RBI; Day went 2-for-4 with two runs scored; McGinnis went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored; Hayes had a hit, two RBI and two runs scored; and Whitaker had a hit and three runs scored.
Lamberth and McGinnis had the only hits for the Eagles in Game 2.
“Now, if you’re down 21-0 like we were in the second game, you just tip your hat and move on,” said Ball. “We were down 8-0 before we could blink our eyes. But [Elkmont] is an older team and you could tell they played well together.”
While disappointed in the outcome of the series, ball was pleased with how his first season as head coach turned out.
“I hate it that [the season] is over, but honestly, back when the season started, I would have been happy as a lark if we could just somehow make the playoffs. We ended up winning our area and making it to the second round, so I’m proud of what these kids accomplished. We started throwing back in November, so it’s been a good six months. I was so happy to see these kids experience some success just for the fact that we worked them so hard.”