Gaston puts away Sumiton Christian in three games, moves to 2A third round

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By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent

Gaston advanced to the third round of the Class 2A state baseball playoffs with a best-of-three series victory against Sumiton Christian this past weekend (Apr. 29-30).

The visiting Eagles pushed the Bulldogs (17-11) to the limit, with the hosts winning 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning in Saturday’s deciding game. Javarious Pope led off inning with a single, then Sawyer Bryson fanned and Alexander Allen hit into a fielder’s choice to retire Pope at second. Jesse Samples reached on an error, however, and Bryant Allen singled in the winning run.

The Bulldogs advanced to the quarterfinal round, where they will travel to Fyffe for a best-of-three series that starts with a doubleheader on Friday (May 6). 

In the bottom of the third inning in game 3, Bryson lined a hard single that was misplayed by the Eagle rightfielder. 

Bryson never slowed down, coming all the way around to score and give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. 

Sumiton’s Caleb Headrick led off the top of the fourth with a double and scored on a fielder’s choice to tie the game at 1-1. 

Gaston took the lead once again in the fifth inning when Alexander Allen singled and later scored on a fielder’s choice, but Sumiton (19-18) tied the game in the top of the seventh when Chandler Overton singled and later scored on a hit by Evan Love.

Gaston starter Allen Black pitched a strong eight and two-thirds innings before running into trouble in the top of the ninth. Black retired the first two batters he faced before issuing a pair of walks. 

But Kevin Hollingsworth came on in relief and induced a flyout to center to end the inning and set up the ninth-inning heroics by the Bulldogs.

Black had six strikeouts while allowing five hits. 

Gaston head coach Jesse Pruett was pleased with his team’s overall play. 

“We hit better in game 3, and Black threw a great game,” he said. “We got good pitching in all three games, and Bryant Allen came through with a big hit when we needed it.”

Gaston out-dueled Sumiton Christian 1-0 in the series opener on Friday. 

The Bulldogs scored the lone run of the game in the third inning when Black reached base on an error and scored on Bryson’s sacrifice fly. 
Alexander Allen got the win for the Bulldogs, allowing three hits and four walks while striking out 10 in seven innings.

Evan Love took the loss, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out two in six innings.

The Eagles bounced back with a 5-1 victory in the second game to notch the series at one game each. 

Sumiton Christian got outstanding pitching with David Shepherd allowing just four hits and one earned run in seven innings. 

The Eagles (19-18) broke a 1-1 tie with a three-run fifth inning. Evan Love put Sumiton on top with a fielder’s choice that scored Corbin Hicks. Shepherd added an RBI double in the inning. 

Pruett was happy with his pitching, however, especially in game 1. 

“We just couldn’t get our sticks going and couldn’t find a hit when we needed one,” he said. 

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