Tigers bounce back from series-opening loss

Published 8:51 pm Monday, April 30, 2012

Chilton County baseball coach Josey Shannon had already told his players that it wasn’t a matter of whether they would have to deal with adversity, but when—and how they would respond.

The Tigers faced adversity in their second-round playoff series against Brookwood in the form of a Game 1 loss. They responded with two consecutive wins to advance to the quarterfinal round for the second straight year.

CCHS, which was hosting the series at Jack Hayes Field in Clanton, won the second game, 6-2, and the third game, 6-3.

“From the first pitch, they kicked us in the mouth,” Chilton coach Josey Shannon said about the series-opening loss that put his team on the brink of elimination.

Shannon said the mood in the locker room after that game was shock. CCHS, after all, came in with a sparkling 31-5 record, a top-10 ranking in the Alabama Sports Writers Assocation Class 5A poll, an area championship and three regular season wins over Brookwood.

“We’ve kind of been on cruise control,” Shannon said. “We go out and compete, don’t get too high or too low. [Brookwood] started out bad. They’ve got a new coach, 10 seniors that had to learn a new philosophy. It took them a little while, but they won 17 or 18 in a row. They got hot. They were running on emotion.

“I told my guys all week, ‘They’re going to be coming after you.’”

In Game 2, Chilton led 2-0 in the sixth inning behind a strong start from pitcher Trevor Thomas, but Brookwood tied the game late and sent it into extra innings.

CCHS won with four runs in the top of the ninth inning but not before taxing its pitching staff.

Sawyer Cahalane, who had started only three games during the regular season, was called upon to start the decisive Game 3. He responded by allowing just two runs in four innings pitched and then was relieved by Cummings, a lefthanded pitcher, for the final three innings.

“We felt like if he could give us three or four innings that we controlled our destiny with Cameron because they were loaded with lefthanders,” Shannon said.

Cummings only had three innings left to pitch in the week per Alabama High School Athletic Association rules.

Still, the game was tied in the fifth inning when Trevor Thomas drove a two-out, two-run double to the fence in left field for a 4-2 lead.

“It was like a 9-round heavyweight bout,” Shannon said. “It was punch-for-punch. Brookwood was better than what people gave them credit for.”

The atmosphere at Jack Hayes should be electric again this week as Briarwood visits for a best-of-three quarterfinal series.

Game times are set for 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, with a third game at noon on Saturday if necessary.

Another local team, Maplesville (15-13), will also host a quarterfinal series, against Fayetteville (21-16). Game times are 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, and noon on Saturday.

Thorsby (20-11) will travel to Leroy (30-5). Game times are 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday.