Defending 4A champion Mobile Christian rallies to stun Etowah in turnover

Christian Mobile baseball coach Talley Haines was nearly speechless when asked Tuesday night to recap Game 1 of the Class 4A State Championship Series.

“I can’t,” he said, rubbing his head. “Crazy game.”

The second-placed Leopards – trailing throughout and until their final strike – scored two in the most unlikely of ways to beat No.6 Etowah 9-8 at Choccolocco Park in Oxford.

RELATED: Rewind of Tuesday’s State Baseball Finals

Game 2 is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Jacksonville State.

“Obviously a tough loss,” Etowah coach Blake Bone said.

Etowah (28-13) led from start to – ALMOST – finish. The Blue Devils scored one point in the second, three in the third, two in the fourth and another in the sixth. They were leading 5-0 at one point and 8-7 late in the set.

“Hats off to our boys for not giving up,” Haines said. “They continued to have good drummers.”

Seth Smith opened the end of the seventh with a field single. But Zane Stokes came out and Ty Mancha failed, leaving the tying run to second with two outs. Bone chose to intentionally walk Brody Hinton, bringing up Alex Bennett as Mobile Christian’s last chance.

Bennett worked the count to 3-2 against Etowah first-year reliever Jamison Scissum before appearing at first base for what looked like the final. However, Trace Thompson dropped the pop into foul territory, giving Bennett another chance. He lined up a single down the middle to score the tying run and send the winning run to third.

“It was a tough mindset for him to get back in there and put a good swing on the ball,” Haines said of Brewer’s recovery. “I thought he had a lot of good batting. He worked the count in depth and saw locations. Sometimes you don’t have success at first, but it helps you to be successful down the road. It’s all to his credit. »

With the game now tied 8-8, Ben Brewer had a chance to get away with it for the Leopards (32-4). He hit a flare first, but it didn’t matter. The second base umpire pushed Scissum back, sending the winning runner home from third and sparking a mobile Christian celebration.

“I was really watching the batter and we were talking about what we were going to pitch next and what was coming next,” Bone said. “I haven’t seen it, but that’s how it is.”

Hinton said even he didn’t know exactly what happened from his perspective at third base.

“I didn’t know it was a hesitation, but I knew my teammates had it,” he said. “We never lost faith.”

Kelly Lanier picked up the win. He went the distance, although he allowed 11 hits and 5 earned runs. He struck out 6. Three Mobile Christian errors led to 3 unearned runs. Scissum – Etowah’s fourth pitcher of the night – took the loss.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” Bone said. “They competed thoroughly. I hate it for them, but baseball is a fun game. We knew it. We took care of it all year. We will come back and be ready tomorrow. Nobody gave us a chance, and we should have won the match.

Did you know? Haines said it wasn’t the first time he’s been involved in a free-kick losing game.

“I lost one that way when I was in the minors,” Haines said. “I dropped the ball when I was on the mound.”

Key Stats: Mobile Christian – Charlie Keller homered and drove in 3 runs. Zane Stokes hit a solo homer. Smith also had 2 hits. Etowah – Thompson went 3 for 4 with 3 doubles and 2 RBIs. Scissum was 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs. Caleb Freeman started and allowed 6 runs on 5 hits in 4.2 innings.

They said it:

“We have been here before. Last year we won the first big game and had a really tough game the next day. Game 2 is definitely the hardest game you will play in a series like this. -Stokes.

“Throughout the season, we realized that our hitting is contagious. We just need a big one. I promise I wasn’t trying to (show someone). I was definitely more excited about what was about to happen. I knew it would take us forward. – Keller on his excitement after hitting a 2-run homer.

“We knew this was going to be a step-by-step series. We just have to empty this one. It will take more to overthrow us. –Andrew Pierce of Etowah.

“We will continue to play baseball. I believe in my guys. We know what we have to do. – Free man.

Next : Game 2 is Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Jim Case Stadium in Jacksonville. An Etowah win would force Game 3.

Casey J. Nelson