7A #8 Bob Jones (36-12) 15-11, 7A #10 Huntsville (24-15) 7-3:
HUNTSVILLE- For the second week in a row Bob Jones defeated an SEC bound pitcher and advanced in the Class 7A playoffs. Friday night it was Huntsville High ace and Mississippi St. signee Christian MacLeod.
Huntsville faced a must-win game two with MacLeod on the mound after Bob Jones won a high-scoring game one 15-7.
Bob Jones never trailed in either game and handed Huntsville an 11-3 loss in game 2.
“I didn’t think we would score that many against MacLeod, he’s a great pitcher,” said Bob Jones coach Jared Smith. “We had a good gameplan against him to try to hit the fastball. The home run in the first inning by Daly set the tone. We have seen six SEC pitchers all year so we weren’t scared of him. We put the ball in play, chipped around enough, stole some bases, hit three home runs and Dylan Ray put the game away.”
MacLeod pitched into the sixth inning and was relieved after throwing 115 pitches, the final one with the bases loaded Dylan Ray crushed deep into the night over the left field fence landing on the roof of the school cafeteria.
John Michael Riley came on to pitch the final outs after Austin East threw six plus innings and gave up only two runs. East is now 2-0 in two playoff starts.
Huntsville found out early in both games what they were up against as Bob Jones homered in the first inning in both games.
In game two, Mitch Daly stunned the crowd when he went yard down the left field line with Caden Rose on first. The lead held up as rightfielder Colton Carver made a nice catch to get out of the second.
East pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the third. Bob Jones went to work again as Caden Rose beat out a bunt and stole a base. Huntsville intentionally walked Daly to get to Dylan Ray. Ray smacked a double past the third baseman for two runs and a 4-1 lead. Slate Alford added a solo home run that landed on Bob Wallace Avenue.
Bob Jones broke the game open in the sixth as they loaded the bases. Rose and Daly worked MacLeod for walks to force in runs before Ray’s blast.
In game one, Bob Jones scored five runs off Matt Dailey in the first inning.
Smith again had Bob Jones aggressive on the base paths.
“McLeod and Dailey want to get up there and pitch. They don’t want to deal with the run game or bunts so we tried to make them uncomfortable. We had some bunts, double steals, and it paid off tonight. We didn’t want them to pound the strike zone and strike us out 15 times.”
MacLeod did have 11 strikeouts and Bob Jones only had five hits until the seven run sixth.
In game one John Michael Riley hit a grand slam off the scoreboard. Slate Alford later hit a home run as Bob Jones scored five runs in the fourth inning. The Patriots got production from the bottom of the order with Colten Carver, Stuart Edge and Ben Crawford all night. Rose and Cam Hill each had two hits and three RBI in game one. Rose got the win going four plus innings in relief of Cam Hill.
Dylan Ray bounced back with run producing hits after two strikeouts in game two.
“We had faith in him,” Smith said. “I talked to him after the strikeouts and he had a better approach and it really paid off. He’s just a sophomore but our young guys are like veterans now. Our kids are hungry. They want to get to Montgomery.”
It is the first time since 2001 a Bob Jones baseball team has made it this far in the playoffs.
Playing for a state championship is now within their grasp. Only Hewitt-Trussville stands in the way. And the Patriots are at home.
Bob Jones (36-12) won the opener 15-7.
Alabama commitment Dylan Ray hit a grand slam as part of a seven-run sixth inning that blew Game 2 open. Huntsville pitcher and Mississippi State signee Christian MacLeod had allowed five hits going into the inning with the Panthers trailing 4-2. But his pitch count began to rise (he finished with 115), fatigue set in and Bob Jones collected four hits and drew three walks.
Huntsville, which entered the series on a 14-game winning streak, finished 24-15.
Play of the game: Ray put the game out of reach when he turned on a MacLeod fastball and launched it on top of the west wing of the school while taking a few moments to stare and then flip the bat to the delight of his teammates and fans.
Game ball: Bob Jones starting pitcher Austin East gave up only three runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He kept the Panthers off-balance with great control and change of speeds. He struck out four and walked four.
Stat sheet: Ray went 2-for-4 with the grand slam, a double and six RBIs. Mitchell Daly went 2-for-2 with a home run, double, two walks and three RBIs. Slate Alford hit a solo homer. John-Michael Riley went 2-for-4 and recorded the final two outs on the mound. MacLeod fanned 12 and walked five over 5 2/3 innings. He surrendered 11 runs on nine hits. Peyton Lee went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for the Panthers. Nick Constantine went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
By the numbers: 12 – Home runs by Ray this season; 36 – Wins by Bob Jones is a program record; 23 – Combined hits on the night for Bob Jones to Huntsville’s 14; 1 – Error by each team on the night. Both came in the opener; 25 – Years of service in the Huntsville City Schools system for Panthers coach David Sharp, who stepped down following six seasons at the helm.
Coachspeak: “We’ve seen six SEC guys this year and so we are not afraid of any of them. MacLeod was tough on us early, but our guys just accepted the challenge kept putting the ball in play, stealing some bases and then Dylan Ray puts one on top of the school to kind of put it away and that was a big one. You hate to lose a guy like coach Sharp in our profession. He did a great job of helping me out when I first moved to north Alabama and was one of my first coaching friends up here. We’re all going to miss him.” — Bob Jones coach Jared Smith
“One night is not going to define this team. Hats off to Bob Jones, they were better than us tonight. That’s the bottom line. This team has shown so much character and been resilient showing their pride for this school and they have made me proud to be their coach and I’m going to miss them. My heart is right here at Huntsville High baseball and I hate leaving this place, but the time was right for me in retirement. I’ve given every ounce of energy I have here at this school and I don’t leave with any regrets. I always be a Huntsville High baseball fan.” — Sharp
They said it … : “Its not easy to shake off striking out three times like I did in Game 1, but you just have to be a team player, keep your head up and keep seeing the next pitch and be ready to hit it. I knew MacLeod was getting tired in the sixth inning and when he threw me the fastball after a ball in the dirt, I just turned on it and, yeah, I stared a bit just to hype up our team. But he’s a great pitcher and I know he will probably be in the pro’s someday.” — Ray
Game 1 recap: Bob Jones pulled away by scoring five runs in the fourth and three runs in the fifth. Riley was the hero at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a grand slam, double, walk and five RBIs. Caden Rose went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs, and Slate Alford went 2-for-3 with solo home run. Rose got the win in relief. He pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits. Huntsville’s Tommy McMillan went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. The Panthers used six pitchers.
What’s next: Bob Jones will host Hewitt-Trusville in the semifinals beginning Friday.