Billingsley throttles Florala, sets up Leroy series in Elite Eight

Published 3:49 pm Monday, May 1, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Billingsley High School showed how deep its pitching rotation is during a sweep of Florala High School in the Sweet 16 of the AHSAA Class 1A state baseball playoffs on April 28. The Bears used three pitchers to cover 12 innings across the two games and gave up just 11 hits and three runs.

Mason Truesdale started game one for the Bears and went four and one-third innings with 10 strikeouts before Shane Shirah came out to strike out the last two hitters to close the game. Kyle Boice started game two and went the full seven innings and struck out 12 Florala hitters.

Billingsley blitzed Florala 16-1 in game one behind a 14-run fourth inning. Truesdale cruised through the first two innings without giving up a hit and issued two walks that gave Florala base runners. Florala did get a run off the right-hander with an RBI double after a leadoff single in the third inning to take a 1-0 lead.

The lead was short lived as the Bears took a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the third inning after Nathan Gilmore knocked a two-RBI double. Truesdale issued two more walks to Florala hitters in the fourth inning, but he struck out the side to end the inning with no score.

Then, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Billingsley erupted. Seven singles, five doubles and four walks from the Bears in the inning produced 14 runs to blow the game wide open at 16-1. Seven different Billingsley hitters recorded an RBI in some way during the innings.

Kyle Boice was 4-for-4 with a double and four RBIs, and Landon Jones was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. Shane Shirah, Hunter Wyatt and Gilmore each had two RBIs. Every Bears’ batter recorded a hit, and six of the nine hitters had multiple hits.

Truesdale gave up two singles to the first three hitters in the top of the fifth inning which brought on Shirah to close the game. Truesdale’s final line included 10 strikeouts.

Shirah struck out the first two batters he saw to close out the game one win.

In game two, the bottom of the Bears lineup was nails with the eight and nine hitters, Marshall Headley and Hudson Manning, combining to go 4-for-7 with five RBIs. Headley had four of the five RBIs. The duo recorded four of Billingsley’s seven hits in the game in route to a 7-2 win.

Florala took the lead first again 1-0 in the first inning, but their lead was again short lived. Billingsley drew four consecutive walks in the second inning to score a run, and Headley drove in two runs with a single.

Billingsley’s Kyle Boice, who started game two, sat down six consecutive Florala hitters in the second and third innings, gave up a leadoff solo home run in the fourth inning to cut the lead down to 3-2. Boice went the full seven innings and gave up six hits, two runs and struck out 12 hitters.

Billingsley posted a three-run fifth inning to go up 6-2, and Headley added a late insurance run with a sacrifice fly out to boost the Bears to the 7-2 win.

Billingsley advances to the final eight teams in the AHSAA Class 1A state baseball playoffs with the win. The Bears go on the road for the first time these playoffs to face Leroy High School on May 3 starting with game one at 4 p.m. Game two will follow after, and if a third game is needed, it will be on May 4.