Gators face Tuscaloosa today
By Ronald Frazier
Despite the rain and cold weather that spoiled an outstanding pitching performance by Glenwood’s Luke Davis, the Gators came back and won two straight games and advanced to the quarterfinals of the AISA state class AAA championships by beating Northside Methodist in a two out of three series.
Now the Gators go on the road today and will face Tuscaloosa Academy in Tuscaloosa in a best of three series, starting with a twin bill. A third game, if necessary, will be on Friday.
Friday’s scheduled doubleheader was to start at 1 p.m. but was delayed a half hour as strong wind and rains the night before effected the field. It did not help as the rain returned at the start of Game 1 versus the Knights.
Northside Methodist won Game 1 at 3-2 as they scored three unearned runs against Davis when he had trouble with his control in the second. After striking out the first two batters, the Knights turned three walks, an error, an infield hit and two wild pitches into three unearned runs in the second inning for a 3-0 lead.
Davis was in complete control after that disastrous second and finished with 16 strikeouts and allowed only one base runner, who he picked off first base in the third.
But Davis’ teammates could not counter and come back for the win. They scored two runs in the fifth on a squeeze bunt by Anthony Torrez and a single by Bryce Valero but did not score again. Glenwood left six men on base in the first four innings and hit into two double plays that squelched rallies.
“It seems like its feast or famine for us,” Glenwood coach Tim Fanning said, after the two games were played. “We had our chances ( in the first game) and had the people we wanted at the plate and just didn’t come through with the big hit.”
“That changed in the second game.” He added.
That’s because the Gators wasted no time in scoring early and often and run-ruled the Knights, 15-1 in five innings.
The big inning was the third when Glenwood scored five innings to make it 7-0. The Gators scored in every inning and when they pushed across five more in the fifth and held the Knights were held scoreless, the game was over.
“Like I said, feast or famine. Our approach at the plate was much better in the second game and we got to them early,” pointed out Fanning. “When we went up 7-0 after three innings and they were on their third pitcher, you could see the difference.”
Fanning also had high praise for sophomore Trevor Horne. He went the five innings in the second game, struck out 10 batters and walked one and gave up four hits and a single run in the fourth.
“Here’s a sophomore faced with an elimination game in the playoffs, and he pitched great. That was a very good effort on his behalf and the team’s,” Fanning said after the game.
Leading the hitting barrage for Glenwood in the lop-sided win was Johnson, who knocked in four runs and had two hits, Kody Bence and Jacob Harper also had two RBI and two hits each.
Johnson also had three hits in the first game.
“Wes has hit the ball since we moved him to that leadoff spot and has been doing a great job for us there,” Fanning said.
That forced a Game 3 with Northside, and it was a 4-0 win by the Gators to advance.
Glenwood scored all four of its runs in a fifth for the win as Trevor Crisco and Bryce Valero both had two RBIs in the rally. Glenwood had seven hits, all scattered between seven different players.
If Fanning was happy with Horne’s effort on Friday, he had to be thrilled with freshman Landon Russell’s pitching.
Russell went seven strong innings, giving up only three singles and a walk while striking out nine for the shutout. That made a loser off curve ball specialist Caleb Sauls for Northside, who appeared in all three games, twice as a reliever in the first two contests.
The Gators got ready for the first round of playoffs by playing two games during the week. The Gators traveled to Elmore, Ala. and defeated Edgewood Academy, 3-1.
Jake Melton picked up the win and Valero, Bryce Newman, and Kody Bence had a RBI. Bence had two hits in the contest.
Glenwood went to LaGrange for a makeup contest with Callaway High and lost 10-8. B.J. Snellgrove was tagged with the loss but Valero, Bence, and Crisco all had two hits and Valero had five RBI, including a grand slam home run.