Pitching shines in opening day of county baseball tournament

Published 9:35 pm Friday, March 10, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

After rain put a damper on the action on March 9, the 2023 Chilton County Baseball Tournament got back underway at Jack Hayes Field in Clanton on March 10. Pitching performances across three games stole the show on day one of the tournament.

Verbena and Isabella high schools got two innings of baseball in on March 9 at Thorsby High School before the rain came. The Red Devils came out quickly scoring four runs in the first inning and three runs in the second inning to take a 7-0 lead. Christopher Guzman started on the mound for Verbena on March 9 and threw two and two-third innings without surrendering a hit while striking out six Isabella hitters. Guzman stayed under the one-day rest pitch limit, so he will be available for the Red Devils in their March 11 game against Jemison High School at 4 p.m. at Jack Hayes Field.

“It is all about staying with the process,” Verbena coach Allen Brothers said. “We stress routine plays every day … I am excited for the kids because when we play solid baseball, we have a pretty good team.”

When the game resumed on March 10 at Jack Hayes Field, Verbena was able to add a quick run to make it 8-0. Lance Edwards, Ethan Dopson, Jacob Morris and Guzman all had two-hit games, and Edwards had two doubles. Jarod Quinn and Guzman also had doubles in the game, and Guzman had three RBIs.

Johnathan Marino took over the no-hit bid for Verbena on March 10 and took it into the seventh inning before Isabella’s bats came to life scoring four runs. Tyler Mims and Joseph Boatwright had the two hits of the game for Isabella, and Colton Conway had two RBIs.

Marino managed the traffic on the bases to end the game at 8-4. Marino’s final tally saw him go four and one-third innings giving up two hits, four runs (one earned) while striking out 10 hitters.

“We have three or four guys who are pitching really well,” Brothers said. “Who knows, and sky’s the limit for this group.”

Maplesville and Jemison high schools faced off in the second game of the day that saw a fantastic pitching performance by the Panthers’ Tyler Porter. Porter threw a complete game of seven innings giving up just two hits and striking out six Maplesville hitters in route to a 7-0 win for Jemison.

“That is what I expect out of (Porter),” Jemison coach Jason Easterling said. “He did it all the time last year, and he has thrown the most for us this year too. Glad he came out on top today.”

The Panthers opened the scoring in the second inning with two runs and added a third run in the third inning to go on top 3-0. Hunter Scott, Daniel Flores, Cooper Smitherman and Trent Gaines all had two-hit games for Jemison. Tucker Bean and Flores each had a double and Alex Bice knocked a triple. Smitherman was the only Panther to record an RBI.

Jemison scored another run in the fourth inning and three in the bottom half of the sixth inning to put the game out of reach down the stretch. Jemison recorded 11 hits as a team.

“I think they played well today,” Easterling said. “We need to swing the bats a little better, but they are finishing better the last couple games. That was my goal earlier in the season and they are starting to get it.”

The Panthers move on to face Verbena on March 11.

Chilton County and Thorsby high schools were featured in the night cap of day one action. CCHS took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a Logan Bice RBI single and a wild pitch and never looked back cruising to a 6-1 win.

Aiden Bee got the start on the mound for CCHS and went almost the entire game but settled for six and two-thirds innings of work. Bee allowed four hits and one run and sat down 15 Thorsby hitters by way of the strikeout.

“He pitched outstanding tonight,” CCHS coach Ryan Ellison said. “He is a guy who has been throwing for us for a while … We know what we are going to get when he goes out there. He is going to compete, he fills the zone up, and he gives us a chance to win every time he is on the mound.”

Thorsby’s Aiden Seeley and Gavin Parker worked through four innings on the mound, surrendering just three CCHS hits. Payton Cole took over in the fifth inning for Thorsby and gave up a sacrifice fly RBI to Bee. Cole loaded the bases but got out of the jam with a flyout to center field, but the Tigers extended their lead to 3-0.

Thorsby got on the board in the sixth inning when Parker roped a ball down the right field line for an RBI, but the Rebels ran into their third out on the base paths the same play. CCHS added three runs late in the seventh inning to salt the game away.

“I thought we came out with a lot of life and energy,” Ellison said. “Aiden threw it well for us. Senior guy, county tournament and getting the start in front of the home crowd. It was a good night for him.”

CCHS will play Maplesville at 1 p.m. on March 11 at Jack Hayes Field. If the Tigers win, they will play the winner of the Jemison and Verbena game at 4 p.m. for the county championship at 7 p.m. If the Tigers lose, the winner of the Verbena and Jemison game will be crowned the county tournament winner.

Isabella and Thorsby play a consolation game at 10 a.m. on March 11 to kick off the second day of the tournament.


March 11 Schedule at Jack Hayes Field:

Isabella High School (0-1) vs. Thorsby High School (0-1) at 10 a.m.

Chilton County High School (1-0) vs. Maplesville High School (0-1) at 12:30 p.m.

Verbena High School (1-0) vs. Jemison High School (1-0) at 3 p.m.

If CCHS wins, CCHS vs. the winner of the Verbena-Jemison game at 5:30 p.m. for the county tournament championship