Hewitt-Trussville (32-9) 8-5, 7A #8 Bob Jones (36-14) 5-4:
MADISON- Dreams of a state championship in baseball for Bob Jones will have to wait until next year. For the second straight week Hewitt-Trussville ended the season for team from Madison City. Friday night, the Huskies defeated Bob Jones 8-5 in game one and in the nightcap the Huskies rallied for two runs in their final at bat to claim a 5-4 win and advance to the AHSAA Baseball Championship.
Bob Jones came within one out of forcing a deciding game three on Saturday but an injury to Caden Rose in game one left the Patriots with holes in their infield and in their pitching order.
Rose’s left ankle was spiked and rolled up on in a play at second base and he could not play in the field in the second game. He played designated hitter and still managed to drive in two runs including the go ahead run on a single in the fourth. But he was limited running the bases.
Rose tried to tough it out and close out game two but it was the Huskies Jacob Bishop who hit a single with the bases loaded to flip the outcome.
“We were a double play ball away from playing tomorrow,” Bob Jones head baseball coach Jared Smith said. “Caden got banged up and was slowed down on the bases and we were hesitant to use him on the mound but he’s a competitor and he warmed up and said he wanted the ball. Hats off to the them, they had great at bats both games. We had chances to extend the lead and we didn’t. We just ran out of gas. I was pleased with the way the guys played. We needed three outs to get to tomorrow and we didn’t get them,”
Cam Hill started for Bob Jones in game one but the Patriots fell behind and not even a Dylan Ray three-run home run in the seventh was enough. In game two Austin East started and lasted 1 plus inning with Andrew Wright relieving. Wright was in line to get the win going three and a third innings and allowing no runs.
Smith thought his team was a year or two away from making a serious run but last week’s dominating performance against Huntsville had him believing this team could win it all.
“We made it a little further than I thought we would. I knew we were talented but we’re so young and in 7A baseball it’s tough. We didn’t have a senior on the field today. Our ultimate goal is still to win a state championship but we just didn’t make enough plays tonight.”
Despite the loss Bob Jones made tremendous strides going from missing the playoffs last year to winning two playoff series and making the final four. They set the school record for wins in a season and won the area in the process.
“We’re not going to hang our heads about this loss,” Smith said. “We did a lot of great things this year and we got a lot of players returning. This is something we plan on doing year after year. It was great playing in this atmosphere with this many fans and bringing the alumni back.”
Hewitt-Trussville rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat host Bob Jones 5-4 and complete a doubleheader sweep Friday night in Madison. The Huskies advance to the Class 7A state finals next week in Montgomery.
Jacob Bishop hit the deciding two-run single to lift Hewitt-Trussville (32-9). Davis Burgin pitched a scoreless top of the seventh to earn the win in relief of lefty starter Carson Skipper.
“I’m getting too old to handle those games. I’ll tell you that,” said Hewitt-Trussville coach Jeff Mauldin, 44, who is in his 19th year overall and sixth with the Huskies.
Hewitt-Trussville overcame this week’s adversity when a virus hit the program. Three days ago, four players missed practice as a result and Mauldin worried that it would spread throughout the team.
“God gave us the strength to come out here and play 14 innings,” he said.
The Huskies won the first game 8-5 behind a strong pitching performance by Michael Fowler (8-2). In 5 2/3 innings, he had eight strikeouts and allowed two runs on four hits with three walks. Ed Johnson recorded the final out for a save. Keith Lanum hit a three-run triple in the four-run second and scored a run.
Also in the opener, Bob Jones’ Mitch Daly hit a solo homer and Dylan Ray had a three-run shot. Cam Hill (7-3) took the loss.
Eighth-ranked Bob Jones (36-14) couldn’t hold its 4-3 lead in the nightcap. Patriots starter Austin East allowed three runs in 1 2/3 innings, but Andrew Wright blanked the Huskies for 3 1/3. Hewitt-Trussville loaded the bases in the seventh against Ray, who took the loss.
“We played out tails off whole game. They just made a couple more plays than we did,” Patriots coach Jared Smith said.
Play of the game: With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Caden Rose came on to pitch against Bishop, who lined the winning two-run single to right on a full count.
By the numbers: 8 – Hits by Hewitt-Trussville, including two apiece by Fowler and Caden Kirk. … 5 – Hits by Bob Jones with one apiece by Rose, Hill, John-Michael Riley, Colten Carver and Tyler Jones. … 7 – Strikeouts recorded by Skipper in six innings.
Game ball: Give one to Bishop, a junior, who batted eighth in the lineup. His varsity career began as a baserunner at the end of last year and this was his first walkoff hit. Give another ball to Burgin, who hadn’t pitched in the playoffs until tonight. He recorded two strikeouts in his perfect seventh to give the Huskies a chance to rally.
Coachspeak: “We’re down the whole game. Just grit and determination and just having the strength to come through in the clutch. This was a total team win.” – Mauldin
“I was proud of our guys and the way they played for sure.” — Smith
They said it … : “I blocked out all the noise and I just thought about all the coaches had told me and put it into play. It worked out. And we played a great opponent. It was really good to play them. And all glory to God for everything.” — Bishop
“This season we trusted each other. We’re a young team (with four seniors). We had a lot of fun. It was tough to see it end like this. Now our legacy is cemented. It’s an honor to truly be remembered as a Bob Jones Patriot. We trusted the process and we made it to the final four. Next year they’re going to be competing for the state championship in Montgomery.” – Kyle Parker, a senior outfielder for Bob Jones
What’s next: Hewitt-Trussville will play Auburn in the final on Friday and Saturday in Montgomery in a rematch of the 2016 championship which the Huskies won in two games. This year Auburn (33-7) beat Hewitt-Trussville 8-1 on March 15 at Auburn.