Powerhouse Eagles end Danville's run in playoffs

By Staff
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
HOKES BLUFF – Danville's playoff run ended at Hokes Bluff Friday as the Hawks fell to the four-time defending Class 3A champions.
The Eagles stymied the Hawks, sweeping Danville out of the quarterfinals with 12-2 and 11-1 victories Friday night.
"(Hokes Bluff) just got extremely good hitting tonight," Danville coach Jay Stanley said. "We threw some good pitches, and they just hit them. They're one of the best hitting teams we've seen all season."
Despite the lopsided scores, Danville had its chances throughout the night, stranding a combined 14 runners in the two games.
"You've got to give (Hokes Bluff) credit," Stanley said. "They just did what they needed to do all night long; we'd get a couple of runners on base and then they'd get a couple of big strikeouts. Their pitchers did a great job of keeping us stifled; we just couldn't get a big inning of our own."
In Game 1, the Hawks had a great chance to take an early lead when Hokes Bluff ace Tyler Stovall loaded the bases with two outs. Parker Hogan led off with a walk, Bryan Rogers struck out but reached first base after the Eagles' catcher dropped the third strike and Jake Mahathy walked. But Stovall recorded the third out on a strikeout and the Eagles went to work in the bottom of the first inning, scoring seven runs.
Stovall worked the first three innings and allowed one hit – a double to Rogers – before giving way to Brandon Bearden in the top of the fourth. The Hawks greeted Bearden by scoring two runs in that inning, including a leadoff homerun by Jake Mahathy, the first of his career.
Cody Taylor scored the Hawks' second run in the inning, as he reached base on a single following Mahathy's shot, then moved to second on a wild pitch. He scored on an RBI single from Randy Thomason.
Dakota Wilson and Rogers both singled off Russell Addison in the fifth inning, but the Hawks couldn't score and the Eagles plated three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning to end Game 1 on the mercy rule.
Parker Hogan pitched the first inning for the Hawks and Wilson pitched the final four.
In Game 2, the game was tied at 1-1 before the Eagles scored six runs in the top of the third inning to break it open.
Danville scored its only run of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Roger Smith led off with a single and Mahathy followed with an infield bunt single. Taylor's groundout moved Jacob Young, pinch running for Smith, to third base and Young came home to score on an RBI single from Zac Ward.
The Hawks had a chance for more runs in the inning, eventually loading the bases with one out, but Addison struck out the final two Hawk batters to end the threat.
"We have been fortunate to get out of those kinds of predicaments lately," Hokes Bluff coach Mike Estes said. "You've got to give Danville a lot of credit; they didn't give up all night."
Danville managed five hits in Game 2, with both Smith and Ward singling twice, and Mahathy picking up the other Hawk hit. Smith started the game and worked three innings and Young pitched the final four.
The losses ended the Hawks' season at 20-25, but with a team that featured no seniors this year, Stanley is very proud of his club and excited about the future.
"These guys have grown up a lot this season," he said. "We won 20 games and won our area, and those were both big goals of ours. We really met every goal we set at the start of the year; third round was about as far as I could have hoped this year, because I knew third round was going to be against (Hokes Bluff).
"We hope that some of these juniors coming back as seniors next year can be leaders for us. I'm looking forward to an older bunch, because we've been so young the past few seasons. We appreciate this experience, getting to play a team like (Hokes Bluff) tonight – I hope maybe that's the kind of team we can be like next year."

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