“We put the ball in play a little bit,” Sylacauga head coach Mike Gibbs said. “Their pitcher had our number a lot of the time. I just told them to keep swinging and keep coming. Our kids, they don’t ever give up and neither does Childersburg. That’s just part of it. I was proud of them. We put the ball in play when we needed to and fortunately, we made a couple of things happen. We got ourselves back in the game on the scoreboard, but I think we also got ourselves back in the game mentally and I’m proud of them for that. We’ve got a good bunch of kids, a bunch of sophomores on the field tonight and I couldn’t be happier for them. It’s special to win the County Tournament. It always is and we’re just happy with it. It’s still a long season. Childersburg is a great baseball team. They always are. Coach Slaten is an excellent baseball coach. I have all the respect in the world for them.”
Down 5-0, the team scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Hunter Johns led off the inning by flying out to shortstop Trevor Bates. One batter later, Bates was charged with an error enabling Clay Wesson to reach first base. Peyton Heath drew a walk. Justin Hickman hit a sacrifice fly to right field that allowed Wesson to tag up and advance to third base. Austin Masters hit an infield grounder, but first baseman Peyton Logan was unable to field the ball cleanly allowing Wesson to score. Brooks Jackson showed patience at the plate by drawing a walk that loaded the bases. Zach Pearson also walked to bring Heath around to score.
At that point, Childersburg head coach Chad Slaten made a pitching change opting for Reeves Brashear to come in relief of Alex Bentley. Will Green hit a grounder back to the Brashear, but he was unable to field it cleanly allowing another run to score. Tanner Cleveland followed that up with a single to left field that allowed two runs to score and when the ball got past the left fielder, pinch runner Josh Brown attempted to come home, but was thrown out at the plate. Nevertheless, Sylacauga had turned a five-run deficit into a tie with all five runs coming with two outs.
In the sixth inning with the score tied at 5-5, Masters started the bottom half of the inning with a double to deep center field. Jackson hit a grounder to Brashear, who tried to look Masters back but it only worked momentarily. As soon as the ball left Brashear’s hands on the successful throw to first for the out, Masters took off for third base and made it safely. Zach Pearson flied out to right field, but Masters was able to tag up and score what would eventually become the winning run.
The top of the seventh was not without a little drama. Green started the inning by striking out Holmes. Justin Baker hit a ball deep into the outfield but straight away to center, so Hickman was able to make the catch at the warning track. Will Donahoo reached base on a fielding error by shortstop Pearson. Green walked both Garrett and Bentley to load the bases. But with the pressure high, Green struck out Bates to end the game.
“He held his composure when things didn’t go his way and our way,” Gibbs said of Green. “He just hung in there and gritted it out against a tough Childersburg lineup. He threw too many pitches and got a little bit shaky but then again, he pulled himself back together. He’s got a good, live arm and he’s got good stuff and I’m proud for him. I’m proud for all of our players.”
Childersburg got on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning when Alex Bentley tagged up from third base to score on a sacrifice fly to deep center field by Brashear. Later in the inning, designated hitter Walker Holmes hit a single into right field to score Peyton Logan.
Childersburg tacked on three more runs in the fourth inning. Brashear hit a grounder to third baseman Cleveland with Ryan Garrett already close to home plate, Cleveland looked back Alex Bentley at second base before making a wild throw to first base charged as a throwing error. It allowed Bentley to score and Brashear reached second base. After Peyton Logan hit a single to left field, Gibbs made a pitching change by opting for sophomore Will Green in relief. Zach Lightsey hit a shot to second base where Jackson made a diving stop and flipped to second base for the fielder’s choice. Still, Brashear was able to score to give Childersburg a 5-0 lead.
Following the game, Green was named MVP of the Talladega County Baseball Tournament. Also named to the All-Tournament team were: Sylacauga’s Brooks Jackson and Allen Wilson; Childersburg’s Alex Bentley and Walker Holmes; Comer’s Tyler Jackson; Fayetteville’s Levi Blanchard; Winterboro’s Brady Wideman; Talladega’s Matt Bishop; and Munford’s Clay Upchurch.