Bob Jones was down to its final out in the bottom of the seventh inning with runners on second and third. Starting pitcher Dylan Ray made contact with the ball but it didn’t’ exactly end the way he and the rest of his teammates envisioned it.
Vestavia Hills’ shortstop picked up the grounder but bobbled it before throwing to the plate to try to get Auburn commit Cam Hill out, who rounded third and never slowed, to score the game-winning run. The throw sailed high and to the right for the walk-off victory for the Patriots.
The top-ranked Patriots (39-8) won 7-0 in Game 1, and Hill’s heads-up base-running gave them a 4-3 victory in tonight’s Class 7A baseball quarterfinals.
“It’s awesome and a great feeling,” Hill said. “Before we had our last at-bat, Coach (Jared) Smith told me, ‘I’m sending you no matter what and you better be running.’ So that was my mentality, I got to get safe and when he (Ray) hit it, I was no doubt going home. I took a peek in and saw he had the ball there and I was just running full speed.”
Bob Jones got down early in the first inning of Game 2 but a solo homer from Ray to start the fourth inning swung momentum back to the Patriots as they scored an additional run to cut the Rebels’ lead to a one-run game.
John Michael Riley also added a solo homer in the sixth inning to tie the game at 3-all before Ray and Hill combined for the winning run on a fielder’s choice error at second base. Ray got the win for the Patriots and Andrew White was credited with the save after striking out the final two Rebel batters.
Garrison Cherry was responsible for the final run despite being pulled after 6 2/3 innings of work and took the loss for Vestavia Hills (28-10) in Game 2.
“I was really proud of our guys,” Bob Jones coach Jared Smith said. “Game 1 was a little easier, we got the lead and kind of rode it out. In Game 2, we get down 3-0 in the first, the wheels are falling off, our pitcher isn’t pitching great, but this is what that team is about. They know how to grind it out and get back in it, and they did a great job.”
The first game of the doubleheader saw the Patriots jump ahead 3-0 in the fourth inning before adding the final four runs of the 7-0 shutout in the seventh inning. Austin East, an Alabama-Huntsville signee, got the complete-game shutout, allowing six hits.
Vestavia Hills pitcher and Jacksonville State commit Colton Lewis took the loss in Game 1, allowing six runs off six hits with five walks and six Ks in 6 1/3 innings of work.
Star of the doubleheader: Ray. The junior Alabama commit got the win in Game 2 after allowing three runs off six hits while tallying four walks and 10 strikeouts. Ray also went 2-for-3 in the second game with a solo shot homer to get the scoring started in the fourth inning for the Patriots and the game winning RBI single.
“Coming on the mound and giving up three runs in the first, you have to show tremendous resiliency. With this team, we knew we could score three more runs, and getting something started at the plate was my job so that’s all I was trying to do,” he said.
Stat book: For Bob Jones, Colten Carver led the way in the doubleheader going 3-for-6 with a two-RBI single, while Auburn commit Slate Alford was also 3-for-6 with a two-RBI double in Game 1 and an RBI single in Game 2. Riley was 2-for-6 with a RBI double in Game 1 and a solo homer in Game 2.
Mason Maners led the way for the Rebels, going 2-for-3 in Game 2 while Jonathan Hand was 1-for-3 with an RBI double.
He said it: “I knew this team, we could come back from anything. We’ve done it a lot this season, actually, so we had no doubt when Dylan gave up three in the first we were going to come back. We weren’t worried at all, we knew we got the bats and the defense for it.” – Hill
What’s next?: The Patriots advance to next week’s Class 7A semifinals and face Hewitt-Trussville in a rematch of last year’s Final Four. Game times are Friday at 4:30 and 7:00 with the if necessary game to be played on Saturday at 1:00. The games are at Hewitt-Trussville.