“Our guys fought hard,” Pell City head coach Andrew Tarver said. “ We got down early, we came back to make it 4-2. Then they got up 8-2 and we fought back there. It ended 8-6, we just fell short and that is just the way it falls sometimes for you. I think our kids played really hard. Oxford is a really good team. Three of our seniors have been in the playoffs three years in a row and this ends their run. I know they are disappointed just like I am.”
The Yellow Jackets got on the board first in the top of the first inning. Trent Simpson hit a towering shot just inside the foul pole in left field for a two-run homerun.
In the second inning the Yellow Jackets added a pair of runs to increase their margin to 4-0.
The Panthers cut the Yellow Jackets’ lead in half in the third inning. With two runners on base, senior Alex Jones was able to hit a single to left field to score Carter St. John and Chase Robinson to make it 4-2.
Pell City’s hard throwing right handed pitcher, Jared Brasher got in trouble on the mound in the sixth inning. Two errors and a walk loaded the bases for Simpson and he made Pell City pay. On a one-and one count, Simpson belted a double to right center field to clear the base pad and give Oxford a 7-2 advantage. Austin Jones drove in a run to make it 8-2 on a ground out to first base.
“We made some errors and we were down,” Tarver said. “Our guys fought really hard to get back into the game and gave us a chance at the end of the game.”
The bottom half of the sixth inning, the Panther rallied to get back into the game. Brasher hit a single to lead off the inning. Jake Eithridge hit a single to left field. Matt Whitten was hit by a pitch to load the bases. An error on a Matt Hill hit allowed Brasher and Eithridge to score to make it 8-4. A passed ball allowed Whitten to score from third base to make it 8-5. A passed ball that was called ball four gave Carter St. John a free pass to first base and more importantly the ball got out of the reach of the catcher which allowed Hill to slide into home plate safely to cut the lead to 8-6.
Brasher loaded the bases again in the seventh inning, but this time he was able to get out of the jam without allowing a run. With one out and the bases loaded the Samford signee struck out Simpson looking. Brasher then struck out Drake Chapman to end the inning.
The Panthers had one more chance to keep their playoff hopes alive, but Oxford ace pitcher Joe McGuire made sure that didn’t happen. McGuire struck out the first two batters he faced. The final out came on a flyout to the second baseman.
The Panthers wrap up their season on Tuesday against Cleburne County on Senior Night.