By Chris McCarthy
As is often the case in sporting events involving Hokes Bluff and Glencoe high schools, last Tuesday’s baseball game between the county rivals at went down to the wire.
With the score tied at 2-2 on the bottom half of the seventh inning, Hokes Bluff leadoff hitter Dylan Teague worked a full count before lacing a single in the left-centerfield gap. Carson Eubanks and Wesley Ball followed with consecutive bunts to lead the bases, bringing Jace Stewart to the plate.
The junior leftfielder’s third at-bat did not last long. He was hit by the first pitch, forcing in Teague for the winning run in a 3-2 Eagle victory.
Stewart had a standout game on both offense and defense, going 2-for-3 with two RBI and making an outstanding diving catch in the top of the seventh that gave the Class 4A No. 6 Eagles two outs. In regard to those pair of outs, it looked as if Hokes Bluff would wrap up the win without having the need to play the bottom of the seventh when starting pitcher Koby Addison had a full county on Cam Harris.
But Harris singled and took second base on a passed ball. Bryan Benefield then drew a walk, and in the next at-bat Noah Huff’s RBI base hit tied the game at 2-2. The Yellow Jackets (3-7) had an opportunity to take the lead with runners on first and third, but Addison induced a groundout to end the inning. That sent the game to the bottom of the seventh, where Stewart eventually took one for the team to improve Hokes Bluff’s record to 11-3.
Teague went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, while Ball had a pair of hits and a run scored.
Addison went the distance, striking out six while scattering three hits, two runs and two walks.
“Their pitcher (Paul Hicks) kept us off balance for the most part, but I thought that Koby did a good job stopping them (in the top of the seventh) to give us a chance,” said Hokes Bluff head coach Mike Robertson. “We’ve been swinging the bats a little better lately and we had good execution (in the bottom of the seventh) when Dylan had a great at-bat and Carson and Wesley both put down great bunts. That’s something that we haven’t been doing that well. But give Glencoe credit; they’re a young team that battled the whole game.”
After Addison retired the visitors in order in the top of the first, the Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning when Watson singled in Ball.
Glencoe tied the game in the top half of the third when Harris doubled and scored by way of Huff’s RBI groundout.
Hicks then kept Hokes Bluff off the scoreboard for a while, retiring seven straight batters from the second through the fourth innings. The hosts finally broke through in the fifth when Teague got a leadoff base hit and came home courtesy of a Stewart single.
Addison also was sharp, sending down five off six Yellow Jacket batters. His lone blemish was a leadoff single in the fifth, but the runner was promptly picked off first base.
Both pitchers worked their way out of trouble in the sixth. In the top of the inning, the eagles had runners on first and second with one out before Addison notched consecutive strikeouts. The Eagles then had the potential winning run on second with two outs when Hicks fanned the next batter.
In six innings, Hicks allowed four hits, three runs and one walk while striking out four. Huff went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
“Hicks and Cole Holbrooks are the only seniors we have, so we’re young,” said Glencoe head coach Charlie Robertson. “We only have one starter back from last year. Our record isn’t that good right now, but we’re in a lot of games, like we were today. But wins and losses don’t really mater right now, and we’re hoping these kids grow up fast and to get on track after spring break.”