Jemison picks up important area wins

Published 9:26 am Saturday, April 12, 2014

By Trey Hickman | Special to the Advertiser

The visiting Jemison Panthers blasted West Blocton, 15-2 and 7-2, to complete a doubleheader sweep of their Class 4A Area 7 rivals in varsity baseball on Friday.

Two big innings at the plate and one standout performance on the mound defined Jemison’s Game 1 dominance.

Scoreless through two innings, the teams swapped runs in the third before the Panthers pounded West Blocton in the top of the fourth. Jemison sent 13 batters to the plate that inning, cranking out seven hits and scoring eight runs, highlighted by William Lenoir’s two-run triple that drove in Logan Ray and Will Johns.

Phillip Lenoir and Justin Caudle each collected an RBI double, while Austin Chapman and Cody Thompson singled in a run apiece as Jemison broke the tie and went up 10-2.

“We finally decided we’d hit,” Jemison coach Jason Easterling said. “We pitched well, and we improved our defense a little bit. We made a few moves, moved a few people, and I’m a little happier with the lineup I sent to the plate.”

Jemison padded its advantage in the fifth as three Panthers scored on wild pitches, and Wes Martin notched an RBI single in the five-run inning.

On the mound, Caudle turned in a noteworthy effort, going five innings while allowing two runs (both earned), yielding two hits, striking out four and issuing a walk for the complete-game victory in a contest shortened by two innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Offensively for Jemison in Game 1, Gabe Hayes went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI, and Jacob Bates went 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

Though not as prolific a showing as in the first game, the Panthers still topped West Blocton again in Game 2 behind the Bates’ bat and the right arm of pitcher Clay Cunningham.

Jemison grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning and gradually added to its advantage.

Meanwhile, Cunningham contained the West Blocton bats and ultimately recorded the complete-game win.

Cunningham tossed seven innings, giving up one run (earned), surrendering four hits, striking out six and walking none.

“He pitched well enough to win,” Easterling said. “They put the ball in play, and we made plays behind him. That was good to see. Offensively, I wasn’t as happy as I was the first two games (Game 1 and April 10 vs. West Blocton) but the West Blocton guy was a little change of pace for us on the mound. He didn’t throw quite as hard as the others. A little harder to sit back on him.”

Though the second game lacked the offensive firepower of Game 1, it made up for it with postseason significance.

“I think that (the Game 2 win) puts us in the playoffs,” Easterling said.

Bates spearheaded the Panthers’ offense in the second game, belting a two-run homer as part of his 2-for-3, four-RBI night. Cody Thompson drove in a run while Chapman and Caudle went 2-for-4 and 1-for-3, respectively.

Jemison bumped its record to 12-16 overall and 5-4 in Class 4A Area 7.