Hokes Bluff dispatches Plainview in first round

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Photo: Hokes Bluff head baseball coach Jake Ball congratulates Brayson Hayes following the latter’s home run during the Eagles’ sweep of Plainview the first round of the Class 3A state baseball playoffs on Friday, April 21 in Rainsville. (Courtesy of Alex Chaney)

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Hokes Bluff advanced to the second round of the Class 3A state baseball playoffs after an 8-4, 8-4 sweep over Plainview on Friday, April 21 in Rainsville.
The Eagles (18-16) jumped out to early leads in both games and used solid pitching and defense to keep the Bears at bay.
“We played so many close games this year when we just couldn’t get that big hit, and tonight we did really well in getting extra base hits and timely hits,” said Hokes Bluff head coach Jake Ball. “Plainview had two really good [pitchers], but that’s something we’ve seen all year long, which I think really helped us.”
Game 1 winner Colten Shields went five innings, scattering five hits, one earned run and two walks while striking out six. The Eagle offense staked him to a 6-1 lead after two innings, starting with Brayson Hayes’ two-out home run in the top of the first.
Plainview tied the score in the bottom of the inning on Brayden Haymon’s RBI single, but Hokes Bluff pushed across five runs in the second to take the lead for good. Anderson Morgan’s two-run base hit made it 3-1. Brodie Brogdon’s RBI triple and score off an error, combined with Dawson Teague’s RBI walk, provided the Eagles with a 6-1 advantage.
The Bears narrowed the gap to four runs in the third by way of Braxton Henson’s RBI single before Bray Bearden and Teague scored on an error in the top of the fifth to stretch the advantage to 8-2.
Reagan Davis’ two-run base hit in the bottom of the sixth trimmed the Eagle lead to four runs, but with the exception of a two-out double, Hokes Bluff reliever Conner Masters shut down the Bears the rest to the way.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but we start five sophomores and two freshmen, so we’re really young,” said Ball. “So it’s good that these kids are getting experience and playing well at the same time. We lost some really close games to some really good teams this year, which helped us coming into this series.”
After an RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the first staked Plainview to a 1-0 lead, Game 2 starter Glavine Lamberth did not allow a Plainview runner to advance beyond second base over the next three innings. In the meantime, Brayson Hayes singled in Brogdon in the bottom of the first to tied the score, while Teague’s two-run base hit and Logan Weimann’s bases-loaded walk later in the inning provided the Eagles with a 3-1 advantage.
Shields doubled home Brogdon in the second for a 4-1 lead, and Brogdon’s bases-clearing triple on the third made it 7-1. Shields’ RBI sacrifice fly in the fourth scored Bryce Whitaker for an 8-1 lead.
Plainview narrowed the gap to 8-4 in the top of the fifth by way of Logan Payne’s two-run double and Hensen’s score off a fielder’s choice, but reliever Conner Masters struck out the next batter to end the threat.
After a two-hour delay, the game was declared official prior to the bottom of the inning due to weather conditions.
In four innings, Lamberth allowed three hits, one earned run and three walks while fanning seven.
“[Shields and Lamberth] have kind of carried us all year,” said Ball. “Honestly, they didn’t throw as well as they have been lately, but they made big pitches when they had to make them.”
For the series, Brogdon went 3-for-5 with two triples, a double, three RBI and three runs scored; Teague went 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored; Hayes went 2-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and three runs scored; Lamberth went 2-for-5 with a run scored and Anderson Morgan had two hits, two RBI and two runs scored.
The Eagles host No. 1 Gordo in a second round series this Friday (April 28). Games 1 and 2 are scheduled for 4:30 and 7 p.m., respectively, while an if-necessary third game will be played at 12 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge for us,” said Ball. “I know that and our players know that, and I think they’re ready to face that challenge.”

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