Sardis steamrolls through county baseball tournament

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By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Photo courtesy of Average Joe’s Sports Talk

If the Sardis High baseball team’s stated intention this season is a state championship, the Lions are on the right track.
Sardis, which was the 2023 the Class 5A state runner-up, outscored the competition 48 to 1 en route to capturing the Etowah County Schools baseball tournament earlier this week at Hokes Bluff. It was the Lions’ third straight county title.
Sardis opened the tournament on Feb. 26 with a 17-0 shutout over Gaston, followed by an 11-1 win over Hokes Bluff later that day. Sardis capped off the sweep with a 20-0 victory over Glencoe in the championship game on Thursday, Feb. 29. All three games ended in five innings via the 10-run mercy rule.
“The pitching was strong, the offense was strong, and we did a good job defensively, so I’m really proud of our guys,” said Sardis head coach Kevin Vinson. “I feel like there are no weaknesses in our lineup and that we can hit 1 through 9. I’m sure there’s going to be days when we don’t, but for the most part, we should be able to put up enough runs. The (final) score didn’t really dictate just how good of a team Glencoe is; it just happened to be our night.”
Against the Yellow Jackets, the Lions (4-2) turned a tight 3-1 game through three innings into a blowout with eight runs in the fourth inning and nine more in the fifth. Following a walk by Luke Johnson and a single from Jordan Haney in the bottom of the first, winning pitcher Conner Lowery allowed one baserunner until the bottom of the fifth. During that span, he retired nine of 10 Glencoe hitters, including six by strikeout. He ended up allowing a pair of hits and a walk while fanning nine.
“Conner pitched phenomenal,” said Vinson. “He stayed ahead in the count and the defense played great behind him.”
Lowery gave himself all the support he needed in the top of the first when he walked, stole second base and scored on Carson Gillilan’s line drive to centerfield. Gillian came home on an error later in the inning to make it 2-0. Trey Thornton, who wound up going 2-for-4 with four RBI and three runs scored, went yard over the leftfield wall in the third for a 3-0 advantage.
Sardis quickly loaded the bases in the top of the fourth by way of Derek Tarvin’s leadoff double, a walk by Jackson Rhoden and a base hit from Kohl Holland. The Lions then put across for runs when Blaze Gerhart was hit by a pitch, Gillilan and Martin walked and Thornton reached on an error.
Tournament MVP Landon Carroll (pictured above) smoked a bases-clearing triple to put Glencoe in a 10-0 hole, and Tarvin singled in Carroll during the next at-bat to make it 11-0.
Lowery fanned three straight batters in the bottom of the inning following Brady Kitchens’ double, and the Lions quickly loaded the bases in the top of the fifth to set up a two-run double by Thornton. Carroll continued his hot streak with a two-run home run. With two outs in the inning, Tarvin scored on a walk by Gillilan, and Thornton and Brian Chapman came home on fielding errors for the final 20-run margin.
Against Gaston, the Lions put across seven runs in the second inning, eight in the third and two more in the fourth. For Sardis, Gerhart went 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored; Gillilan went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored; Levi Martin had a two-run home run along with two runs scored; Carroll had a hit, and RBI and three runs scored; Thornton had a double, an RBI and two runs scored; Tarvin had a three-run single and Bryson Blevins had a two-run double.
Gerhart went the distance to earn the win against Hokes Bluff, allowing one hit, one run and one walk while striking out 12. He helped his cause with a two-run double along with two runs scored. Carroll went 3-for-3 with three doubles, two RBI and a run scored; Lowery went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored; Tarvin went 2-for-2; and Gillian had a hit, an RBI and a run scored. Anderson Morgan, Colten Shields and Brayson Hayes each had a hit for the Eagles, with Anderson scoring the team’s lone run.
The Yellow Jackets advanced to the championship game by way of a 14-4 victory over West End and a 9-5 victory over Southside on Tuesday, Feb. 27.
Against the Patriots, Glencoe built a 9-0 lead before West End scored four runs in the top of the fourth. The Yellow Jackets took the lead for good in the bottom of the first when Trent Rowell, who went 4-for-4 with a home run, a double, two RBI and four runs scored, stole home. Later in the inning, Braylen Smith doubled in Brady Kitchens and Jayden Patton singled home Smith.
In the second inning, Daniel Borntrager stole home, Kitchens doubled in Rowell and Austin Mann, Luke Johnson scored on Jordan Haney’s sacrifice fly and Smith RBI single plated Kitchens. Rowell’s two-out home run in the third made it 9-0.
The Patriots trimmed the advantage to five runs in after loading the bases with no outs in the fourth. Jackson Mayor scored on a bases loaded walk, Jace Golden came home on a sacrifice fly and Triston Chaney’s base hit plated Braden Thornton and Tyler Graham.
But Glencoe reliever Josh Loftis retired the Patriots in order in the top of the fifth, and West End never got to bat again. Consecutive doubles from Mann and Rowell in the bottom of the inning made it 10-4, and Kitchen’s two-out, two-run double ended the game on the mercy rule.
Kitchens went 2-for-3 with two doubles, three RBI and two runs scored; Smith went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI and a run scored; Patton went 2-for-4 with a triple, an RBI and a run scored; Mann went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored; and Colby Bishop had a two-run single and a run scored. In three innings, Mann struck out six and walked two.
For West End, Chaney had a two-RBI base hit, while Thornton had a hit, an RBI and a run scored.
Against Southside, the game was scoreless until the top of the fifth when Johnson scored off an error. The Panthers tied the game in the bottom of the inning on Kutter Johnson’s bases-loaded single that plated Carson McGraw. Southside took a 2-1 lead later in the inning by way of Corbin Driskell’s bases-loaded walk.
The Yellow Jackets responded with three runs in the top of the sixth the first on Borntager’s RBI double, the second on Borntrager’s score off an error and the third on John’s sacrifice fly.
Glencoe put together a five-run sixth inning, which started off with an RBI double by Patton, followed by an RBI single from Mann and ending with Rowell’s two-run dinger over the rightfield wall for a 9-2 lead.
The Panthers got within striking distance in the bottom of the inning with three runs, but Johnson induced a fielder’s choice and a pop out to send the Yellow Jackets to the championship game.
For Glencoe, Rowell went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored; Johnson and Borntrager each went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored; Patton went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored; and Mann had a hit, an RBI and a run scored. In 5.2 innings, Kitchens scattered five hits, two earned runs and seven walks while striking out nine to earn the win.
For Southside, Kutter Johnson went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, while Cayden McMichael went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Joining Carroll on the All-Tournament team from Sardis were Lowery, Gillilan and Gerhart. Rowell, Patton and Kitchens made the team from Glencoe.
“It’s great to win county three times in a row, and each year is different,” said Vinson. “Even though we’ve got a lot of guys back, each year it’s a different group in its own way. There are a lot of freshmen on the team that didn’t get to experience that last year. Our record isn’t where we want it to be right now, but even in the games we’ve lost, I didn’t think that we played that badly. We ran into a couple of pretty good teams and didn’t have things go our way. There are a couple of things we need to clean up defensively, but for the most part so far, we’ve done a pretty good job all the way around.”
Southside 7, Hokes Bluff 3
Southside finished off the tournament on Feb. 29 with a 7-3 victory over Hokes Bluff in nine innings.
With the Panthers leading 3-2 in the top of the seven inning, Anderson Morgan worked a two-out walk on a full count and moved to second on Glavine Lamberth’s single. Morgan soon scored off an error to send the game into extra innings.
The Eagles stranded two baserunners in the top of the eight, and Southside capitalized on the opportunity by working three straight walks to start off the bottom of the innings. C.J. Martin and Ethan Sarratt eventually scored to make it 5-3, and with two outs, Cayden McMichael tripled in Angelo Alberghina and Trey Frachiseur for a five-run cushion.
Eli Stewart allowed a base hit and a fielder’s choice in the top of the 10th, but then induced a line-out to end the game.
For Southside, McMichael went 3-for-5 with two RBI, while Alberghina went 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
For Hokes Bluff, Lamberth went 2-for-4, while Morgan had a hit and two runs scored. Lamberth pitched eight innings, scattering seven hits, one earned run and one walk while fanning nine.
Southside 11, West End 0
Southside opened the tournament with an 11-0 win over West End. The Panthers scored four runs in the first, one in the second and six in the fourth to put away the Patriots in five innings.
For Southside, Trey Frachiseur went 3-for-3 with three runs scored; Kutter Johnson went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored; Cayden McMichael went 2-for-3 with two runs scored; Carson McGraw had a hit, an RBI and a run scored; and Ethan Sarratt had a hit and two RBI. Will Runyan went the distance on the mound, allowing five hits and striking out six. He did not issue a walk. Jac Golden had two hits for West End.
Hokes Bluff 12, Gaston 3
Hokes Bluff opened the tournament with a 12-3 victory over Gaston. The Eagles scored four runs in the first inning, two in the second and six in the third to end the game with the five-run mercy rule.
For Hokes Bluff, Bryce Whitaker went 2-for-4 with for RBI. Brodie Brogdon earned the win in four innings with four hits, two runs and two walks while striking out nine.
For the Bulldogs, Jayce Stephens went 1-for-2 with two RBI and two runs score, while Luke Hollingsworth and Levi Ridens each had a hit and a run scored.
Gaston 10, West End 5
Gaston outscored West End 7 to 1 over the final three innings en route to a 10-5 victory on Feb. 29.
The Bulldogs led 3-0 after one inning courtesy of Ezekiel Voytek’s score off an error and Jayce Stephens’ two-RBI double.
The Patriots pushed across three runs in the bottom of the second to go up 4-3. Tyler Graham scored on a fielder’s choice, Brayden Thornton came home on Landon Robison’s RBI base hit, Robinson scored on Rock Sainsbury’s double and Jace Golden’s single plated Sainbury.
Gaston regained the advantage in the top of the fifth when Luke Hollingsworth singled home Voytek and Colton Nelson. The Bulldogs made it 6-4 later in the inning on Maddox Eagly’s score off an error.

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