Panthers, Red Devils advance to Round 3 (updated)

Published 8:38 pm Friday, April 26, 2013

4-26 baseball

By Brandon Sumrall | Special to the Advertiser

After rain forced most games of Round 1 of the state baseball playoffs last week to be moved to Saturday, Friday evening saw the start of Round 2 under blue skies and sunny weather as Maplesville visited Billingsley and Jemison visited Bibb County for best-of-three series.

Jemison and Maplesville pulled out wins in the first games of their respective series, but didn’t fare the same in the second games, as Jemison lost and Maplesville won to advance to the third round of the state playoffs.

Jemison then won Game 3 in 10 innings to advance.

Jemison scored eight runs–including a grand slam by Jacob Bates–in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Bibb County, 9-3, in Game 1 of their series.

The Panthers could manage only one run through six innings of play but exploded in the seventh.

Matt Murphy drove in the game-tying run, and Corbin Bice drove in the go-ahead run before Bates’ blast put the game out of reach.

Justin Caudle started on the mound for JHS, allowing three runs on four hits in 4 2/3 innings pitched. Banks Woodley came on in relief, allowing no hits or runs in 2 1/2 innings.

Cade Hatch went 2-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and two RBI. Daniel Eslinger was 1-for-3 with a double, and Jacob Hatch had an RBI.

The Panthers fell in Game 2, 10-2, but won Game 3 on Saturday, 5-4, in 10 innings.

Meanwhile in Billingsley, although the host Bears jumped out to an early two-run lead to start the game, the pitching of Colby Chambers shut down the Billingsley bats after the first inning, while the Red Devil bats caught fire en route to a 12-2 win.

After facing just four batters in the top of the first inning, Billingsley pitcher Thomas Nichols started out the bottom half of the inning with a single.

Dalton Acreman followed with a single of his own, giving Billingsley two on with no outs. Designated hitter Justin Snow’s line drive to left field for a single drove in both runners, giving the Bears an early two runs–their only runs of the game.

Nichols’ pitch to Trent Smitherman to start the top half of the second inning was a little too far inside, hitting Smitherman and giving the Red Devils a runner with no outs.

Brandon Abbot earned a walk on four straight balls, and Nichols hit his second batter of the inning, Brady Gilliland, to fill the bases.

Nichols then struck out the next two Red Devil batters, but a Zach Bush infield single scored Smitherman, drawing the Red Devils to within one run of the lead.

After giving up two runs to start the game, Chambers settled into his game in the top half of the third inning and began to work a tough curveball and fastball combination that the Bear batters struggled to put in play all afternoon.

With a 1-2-3 inning by Chambers and the Devil defense, Chambers added some offense of his own with a two-run home run that drove in Brent Walker, who reached first base on a single up the middle. After three innings, Maplesville led by one, 3-2.

With a third straight 1-2-3 inning for Chambers, the Red Devils poured on the runs in top half of the fourth inning.

A single by Bush and an infield error by the Bears on a Trevor Wallace infield ground ball gave the Red Devils two on with no outs.

Walker took a fastball of the back to load the bases for Chambers, who hit a double to left center field, scoring Bush and Wallace.

A Smitherman sacrifice fly to right drove in Walker, and a Gililand single up the middle scored Chambers and Abbott, who reached base on a walk. After four innings, the Red Devils led, 8-2.

The Red Devils were far from done in Game 1, as they would add four more runs in the top half of the fifth inning.

Alex Smith got the inning started with an infield single, and Bears pitcher Garrett Harrell hit Bush to give the Bears two on and no outs.

A wild pitch by Harrell reached the backstop and allowed Smith to score, and Chambers would reach on a walk, loading the bases for the Red Devils.

A second straight walk by Harrell to Smitherman scored Bush, and a Gilliland double to right field scored Chambers and Smitherman, giving Maplesville a 12-2 lead heading to the bottom half of the fifth inning.

Although the Bears threatened with runners at the corners and two outs, and infield ground ball to MHS first baseman would bring the game to an end with the 10-run mercy rule.

Chambers pitched five innings with seven strikeouts, five hits allowed, one walk and two runs. Chambers also led the way for the Red Devils at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double, home run and four RBI.

Nichols got the start for the Bears, pitching four innings, giving up six hits with three strikeouts and eight runs.

Snow lead the way for the Bears, going 1-for-3 with a single and two RBI.

Maplesville won Game 2, 5-4, to advance to the next round.

The Red Devils will host the winner of the Brantley-Florala series at 4:30 and 7 p.m. on May 3.

MHS took a 5-0 lead in the third inning of the game, and led 5-1 going into the sixth inning, but Billingsley clawed their way back to within one run of the lead.

With two outs and the game-tying run on third base, Maplesville pitcher Trevor Wallace struck out the Billingsley batter to end the game.

Wallace allowed four runs, three of which were earned, on five hits and three walks in seven innings while striking out 11.

He went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double that produced two RBI.

Smitherman had a bases clearing triple, and Brandon Abbott was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.

“They did a good job tonight,” MHS coach Brandon Shanks said. “I was proud of them. We’re excited about finally getting back home.”

Jemison will travel to UMS-Wright for a third-round best-of three series, and Maplesville will host Brantley. Both series will begin on Friday.

Managing editor Stephen Dawkins contributed to this report.