Southside comes up short to Springville in second round


Photo: Southside’s Eli Stewart dives back to first base as Springville’s Kade Willis receives the pickoff throw during the Panthers’ 4-2 loss in the Class 5A second round state baseball playoffs on Friday, April 26. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

The outcome of Southside’s Class 5A second round baseball series against Springville on Friday, April 26 was a tough pill to swallow for the Panthers.
Game 1 went nine innings, with the Tigers prevailing by a score of 4-2. Trailing 9-2 in the nightcap and it season down to its final nine outs, Southside (20-18) erupted for six runs in the top of the fifth to draw within one run. But Springville pushed across an additional run in the bottom of the inning, and the Panthers scored only once in the top of the seventh en route to a 10-9 defeat.
After Kutter Johnson’s two-run double in the bottom of the fifth forced a 2-2 tie, game 1 remained scoreless over the next three innings. The Panthers had an opportunity in the sixth with bases loaded and two outs, but a pop out stranded Carson McGraw at third base. Southside had runners on the corners in the eighth inning but failed to score in that situation.
In the top of the ninth for Springville, Ryan King’s sacrifice bunt moved Jake Conner to third and Trey Dakes to second, and in the next at-bat. Sean Nichols’ infield single plated Conner and moved Dakes to third.
Kevin Jones then came through with a deep fly ball to leftfield, scoring Dakes for a 4-2 lead.
Facing King on the mound in the bottom of the inning, Southside popped out twice before Albert Alberghina worked a walk. That turned out to be the final baserunner of the game for the Panthers, as King struck out the next batter to put the Tigers ahead 1-0 in the series.
Springville took an 2-0 lead in the top of the second innings with respective run-scoring doubles by Carter Samuelson and Nichols.
Samuelson went seven innings in his game 1 start, scattering seven hits, two earned runs and four walks while striking out eight. In two innings of relief, King held Southside hitless and scoreless while fanning two and walking three.
“We actually out-hit [Springville] (by a 7-5 margin), but we made some errors that cost us a little bit and left 13 runners on base,” said Southside head coach Shane Chappell. “We had runners in scoring position several times, but we just couldn’t get the timely hit.”
Southside game 1 starter Shelby Houston turned in a solid effort in seven innings, allowing four hits and two runs while fanning six. He did not issue a walk.
“For a freshman going out and throwing seven innings in an atmosphere like that, I thought that Shelby pitched phenomenal,” said Chappell.
Also getting a hit for the Panthers in game 1 were Houston, McGraw, Alberghina, Jordan Wood and Trey Frachiseur. Conner went 2-for-4 for the Tigers.
After a double play short-circuited the top of the first for the Panthers in game 2, Conners’ bases-clearing double in the bottom of the inning made it 3-0 in favor of Springville.
Southside drew within two runs in the next innings when Cayden McMichael scored off Johnson’s sacrifice fly, but in the bottom of the third, an RBI triple from Grant Martinez, a run-scoring single by Alex Holland and a two-run error by the Panthers resulted in a 7-2 Springville advantage.
Holland sent the Panthers down in order in the top of the fourth, and his run-scoring triple and Dake’s RBI base hit in the bottom of the inning served to leave Southside in a seven-run hole.
But the Panthers didn’t fold their tents.
In the top of the fifth, respective singles by McMichael and Frachiseur and a walk from McGraw loaded the bases for Johnson, who stroked a base hit to plate Frachiseur. In the next at-bat, Conner Driskell doubled home Johnson and McGraw and McMichael both scored on a balk.
Houston then drove in pinch runner C.J. Jones, and Ethan Sarratt doubled home Houston to cut the Springville lead to 9-8.
Kevin Jones scored in the bottom of the inning to provide the Tigers with a two-run cushion. Southside loaded the baes with one out in the sixth, but King had a strikeout and induced a fly out to end the threat.
Pitching in relief, Driskell held Springville in check in the bottom of the sixth to give the Panthers a chance in the bottom of the inning, during which consecutive doubles by Houston and Sarratt dew the Panthers within a run with no outs. But that turned out to be the high-water mark for Southside, as King recorded three straight groundouts to end both the game and the Panthers’ season.
“Not many teams come back from seven runs down in a playoff game, so I thought that was pretty impressive,” said Chappell. “We were kind of our own worst enemy in the beginning of the game with uncharacteristic errors, and things just didn’t happen to go our way at the end.”
Chappell said the senior leadership provided by Johnson, Frachiseur, McMichael and Wood was a major factor in the development of the team’s younger members.
“The ways in how they demonstrated how not to quit and to keep battling was a mindset shift for us that hopefully will carry on to our younger guys. I think we’re returning over nine starters, so I feel like the future is pretty bight for us.”

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