Sardis falls to Alexandria in state quarterfinals


Photo: Sardis High’s Russ Wiggs tags out an Alexander runner at second base during the Lions’ Class 5A state baseball quarterfinal series on Wednesday, May 1 in Sardis City. (Courtesy of Bentley Gray Photography)

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

The Sardis High baseball team’s postseason came to a disappointing end on May 3.
Facing Alexandria in a deciding third game after the teams split the series-opening doubleheader on May 1, the Lion offense was effectively shut down by Valley Cub starting pitcher Brayton Goode, who in a complete-game effort limited Sardis to hits en route to a 7-0 victory in Sardis City.
In seven innings, Goode struck out 10 and issued only one walk. He retired the side in order in the second, third and fifth innings. Sardis loaded the bases in both the six and seventh innings but failed to push any runs across.
Goode received all the support he needed in the second innings when Tyler Brown homered with a man on base. Jacob Staton’s grand slam and Aiden Brunner’s score off an error in the fourth put Sardis in a seven-run hole, one that the Lions could not climb out of.
Carson Gililan had a pair of hits for Sardis, followed by Blaze Gerhart, Russ Wiggs, Brian Chapman and Derek Tarvin with one each.
The teams split 4-1 (Sardis) and 7-4 (Alexandria) on Wednesday, May 1.
After the Lions dropped the opener by a score of 4-2, a solid pitching performance from senior right-hander Conner Lowery combined with clutch hitting in the eighth inning propelled to the triumph over the Valley Cubs in game 2.
Lowery tossed a complete game, limiting Alexandria to two hits. He struck out nine and walked three while throwing 116 pitches, nine away from his maximum of 125.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Lowery walked Goode but promptly picked him off first base. Lowery struck out the next batter swinging, sending the Lions to the top of the eighth with some momentum.
Wiggs delivered a leadoff single, and Lowery followed with a bunt single between the mound and first. With one out, Tarvin drilled a line-drive single to center field, driving in Wiggs with the go-ahead run.
Gerhart drew a two-out walk, loading the bases for Gillilan, who walked to force home Sardis’ third run. The Valley Cubs then pulled starting pitcher Tripp Patterson, who threw 124 of his maximum 125 pitches.
Levi Martin stepped to the plate and greeted reliever Samuel Henegar with an RBI walk, giving the Lions a 4-1 lead.
Lowery opened the bottom of the eighth by striking out the leadoff batter on three pitches. He then coaxed a groundout to shortstop Wiggs before ending the game on another three-pitch strikeout.
Sardis had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Gerhart singled to left with one out, took second on a groundout and scored on Martin’s double to center field.
Alexandria scored its only run in the bottom of the fourth when Ian Cartwright belted a leadoff double and advanced to third on Henagar’s sacrifice fly to right field. Lowery collected the second out on a strikeout before walking Evan Snow.
Snow broke for second, but Lowery stepped off the pitching rubber, whirled around and threw him out. However, the field umpire ruled Snow safe. As the Lions, their coaching staff and their fans erupted in anger and disbelief, Cartwright stole home to tie it 1-all.
Sardis finished with six hits. Martin doubled and Landon Carroll, Gerhart, Wiggs, Lowery and Tarvin all singled. Martin drove in two runs.
In game 1, the Valley Cubs plated all of their runs in the fourth inning and held on for the victory.
Snow opened the inning with a single and moved to second on Brown’s sacrifice bunt. Goode then stepped to the plate and slugged an RBI double to rightfield. Nic Thompson’s single moved Goode to third, and with two outs, Brunner doubled to right, making it 2-0. Thompson scored on a passed ball and Brunner scored due to an error, giving Alexandria a 4-0 lead.
The Lions scored both of their runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Gerhart drew a leadoff walk, courtesy runner Brayden Whidden advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Martin’s one-out infield single moved Whidden to third, and he later raced home on a wild pitch.
Wiggs drew a two-out walk, and Martin scored off an error on Lowery’s grounder, cutting it to 4-2.
Lowery batted 2-for-3, and Carroll closed 2-for-4 with a double to pace the Lions’ seven-hit attack.
Gerhart started and pitched 6.1 innings. He allowed nine hits, three walks and two earned runs while striking out eight.
Shannon J. Allen of the Sand Mountain Reporter contributed to this article

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