By Ronald Frazier
Two veteran players and two new stars led Glenwood to two straight 2-1 wins on April 27th as the Gators advanced to the semifinals of the AISA state class AAA baseball championships.
The wins came at the expense of visiting Morgan Academy as the Gators used their regular formula of strong pitching and hitting when it was needed to improve to 36-6 on the year.
Glenwood tuned up for the quarterfinal round by walloping Calvary Christian school, in a game played in Columbus for the regular season finale by a 13-1 margin as the game was stopped after five innings.
It could not have been any closer on the 27th as the Gators had to use extra innings and four-year starter Nicks Adams delighted the Gator fans with a two-out home run in the bottom of the 8th to give Glenwood the win in the first game.
Wow, is all I can say,” aid Glenwood coach Tim Fanning after the first contest.”And I could not be happier for Nick Adams who has been a starter on the baseball team for four years.”
The games mirrored one another as far as scoring was concerned. In the first game, Glenwood got a run in the fourth and chased starter Matthew Davis, who hit one batter and walked two more. He also threw a wild pitch that scored Slade James for the first Gator run.
Sawyer Hopkins came in and got a ground ball double play to end the threat and was the pitcher in the 8th that gave up the homer and was tagged with the loss.
Glenwood outhit their opponents, eight to four and those four were divided evenly to Adams, Bryce Valero, Liam Carbone and Trevor Crisco.
Morgan Academy finally got to starter Andrew Tillery in the 6th and tied the game at 1-1. Peyton Egbert, who had two of the Senators four hits, had a seeing-eye single that scored the run. Tillery was relieved in the 7th after throwing over 100 pitches.
“Andrew did not have his best stuff tonight but he does what an ace has to do, he battled out there on the mound. He gave up only four hits and one of those was a fluke hit that scored their only run. But he went over 100 pitches so I called in Luke and he responded.” said Fanning.
“Davis had not been in that situation, coming in from the bullpen all year. He has been a starter and you can’t say enough of the magnitude of what he did against Morgan’s top six hitters.” Fanning added.
Davis, who is only a junior, was extremely effect getting five strikeouts out of the six batters he faced.
Adams was surprised that he hit the home run, although he does have a couple during the regular season.
“When I hit it, I started running hard just in case it was off the wall and it went over the fence,” said Adams after the game. “I didn’t know it was over the wall until I rounded first.”
Game two of the series was almost a repeat of the first. The Gators looked to Slade James to clinch the series and the right hander did just that, going the full seven innings and striking out eight batters and not allowing a walk. All three hits the Senators got were in the 4th when they tied the game at 1-1.
“A bloop single and two bunts in one inning, otherwise he had only two balls out of the infield the whole game,” said Fanning after the nightcap. “This was probably as good a game pitched as he has had all year since his first start. He had only 79 pitches for the whole game.”
“We have a little game between the coaches when Slade is throwing strikes like that and try to guess how many pitches he will have in one inning.” Fanning added.
Glenwood was the visitor in the second game and scored one run on Morgan’s Gunnar Henderson, who has already committed to play at Auburn.
Adams singled in Liam Carbone, who had walked in the top of the 4th before Morgan tied the score in the bottom of the inning.
James helped his own cause at the plate as he had a booming double to right center to lead off the 6th and then scored on sophomore Bryce Newman’s single to left through a drawn in infield for a 2-1 that was all James needed to finish the game.
“What a great hit by our sophomore,” said Fanning. “He has not been in that situation and he came through for us when we needed it and with Slade pitching like he was then it was, we were in great shape.
In the game against Calvary, Newman got some momentum as he was three for four in batting against the Knights in the 13-1 win. Davis was the starter and allowed one hit in four innings and James pitched one inning of relief.
At the plate besides Newman, Tillery had two RBI and shortstop Carbone had his first home run of the year and three RBI as well.
As the No. 1 seed and series winner, Glenwood will now face a familiar foe, Monroe Academy in the semifinals. The series is the best two of three and will start at Bill Bowers Park at 4:30 p.m. ET on May 2 with a double header.
If a third game is needed, it will be played May 3 at Glenwood. Glenwood has faced the Volunteers four years in a row in the semifinal round.