Hartselle beats Pinson Valley and hammers Albertville to advance in Class 5A playoffs
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
William Booth uttered a phrase that might send chill bumps up and down the spines of remaining teams in Class 5A.
"We may be beginning to peak," the Hartselle head coach said. "We played pretty good in the first two rounds."
"Pretty good" might be an understatement, as the Tigers beat Pinson Valley 7-4 and Albertville 14-2 in the first two rounds of the Class 5A playoffs. Both wins came on the road.
"Our pitching has been good, but our bats are really coming alive," Booth said.
Against Albertville, Hartselle had 14 hits.
Hartselle will have the friendly confines of home Friday, when the Tigers host Mortimer Jordan in a best of three series.
Hartselle 14, Albertville 2
The Tigers didn't want a repeat of last year's playoffs, and players like Zac Ward, Blake Heym and Hodge Patterson made sure of it.
Last season, Hartselle bowed out of the playoffs in the second round with a loss to Mortimer Jordan.
Saturday, Hartselle jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
Ward scored what proved to be the game-winning run, as his home run in the first scored Heym. Heym tripled to score Jonathan Wallace just one batter prior.
Chris Wiley hit a sacrifice fly to score David Cameron for the final run in the inning, as the Tigers went through the order in the first three innings.
Starting pitcher Tyler Eddy did the rest.
Eddy picked up his second win of the playoffs in as many games, giving up just one hit and striking out six in four innings of work.
In the second inning, Cameron got an RBI after being hit by a pitch. Wallace scored on the play. One batter later, Zack Smith came
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through with a bases loaded single to score Heym.
Ward scored his second run of the night on a wild pitch, while Hodge Patterson doubled home Ja' Cote Ward and Cameron one batter later, as the Tigers took a 9-0 lead after two innings.
Four more runs crossed in the third. Cameron singled home Eric Grisham and Wallace for an 11-0 lead. One batter later, Zac Ward scored again on a Patterson single. Cameron scored on Wiley's single later in frame as HHS took a 13-0 lead.
Cameron doubled home Zac Ward in the fourth for the Tigers' final run of the night.
Eddy gave way to Joey Watson in the fifth. Watson allowed two runs before striking out the final three batters.
"With us scoring a lot of runs, it took pressure off our pitchers," Booth said. "We hit the ball real well. In the past, we've hit the ball hard, but the hits have been right to somebody in the field."
Hartselle 7, Pinson Valley 4
There may have been a different outcome if not for a Pinson Valley error in the first inning.
With two outs, Zac Ward hit what appeared to be a harmless ground ball down the first base line. Pinson Valley first baseman Randy Turner misplayed the ball and allowed Ward on base.
David Cameron then drew a walk, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Zack Smith then singled home Ward, while Hodge Patterson followed with an RBI single, scoring Cameron.
The 2-0 score remained until the third inning.
Pinson Valley rallied in the third to score two runs and tie the game. Michael Rush led off the inning with a single. He stole second and third base before scoring on an error. Blake Bolden doubled later in the inning to score Desmond Jenkins for the game-tying run.
With the score tied at 2-all heading in the fifth inning, the Tigers scored five runs.
With Jonathan Wallace on first, Blake Heym hit a home run over the left field wall. After Ward and Cameron both singled, Zack Smith stepped to the plate and lifted a three-run shot over the wall.
Pinson Valley could get just two more runs for the remainder of the game, as Tyler Eddy, pitching in relief of Joey Watson, got the win.
Eddy entered in the bottom of the third. He allowed two runs on three hits and struck out eight.