Calera to face off with Vincent in semifinals

Vincent and Calera high schools will face off in an in-county, Class 2A semifinal showdown in the Alabama High School Athletic Association baseball playoffs Friday in Vincent.

VHS made its way to the semis with a 2-1 series win over Excel last weekend. Excel won the first game Friday 9-8. Jay Gibson was tagged with the loss for the Yellow Jackets.

&uot;We just made a few errors and kicked the ball around a little,&uot; VHS head coach Todd Davis said. &uot;We didn’t play that game as well as we should have. They (Excel) have some great hitters. We had 12 hits and scored eight runs. You’re supposed to win games like that.&uot;

VHS’ Shannon Morgan went 2-for-3 at the plate with two home runs and three RBI.

Zac Martin was 3-for-4 on the day for the Yellow Jackets with one home run and four RBI. The home run was a three-run shot in the fifth inning to tie the game 7-7.

In game two Friday, Vincent evened the series at one game apiece behind the pitching of left-handed senior Morgan. The lefty pitched a complete game, allowing three hits while striking out 11 batters. Morgan’s record is 11-2 on the year.

&uot;Any time Shannon is on the mound we expect to win,&uot; Davis said. &uot;He pitched really well and we scratched out four runs somehow to get the win.&uot;

Kedrick Davis and Morgan each had RBIs in the win.

VHS took the series with a 6-5 win Saturday to advance to the semis.

Derrick Swain (6-0) got the win. Swain gave up two runs in the first inning to give Excel an early lead.

&uot;The kids got a little down when we gave up those runs,&uot; Davis said. &uot;Derrick is our No. 3 pitcher, and we felt our No. 3 was better than their No. 3.&uot;

Andre McKinney, the Yellow Jackets’ fourth outfielder, came through with a two-RBI single in the second inning to tie the game 2-2.

Excel scored the next three runs, taking a 5-2 lead into the fifth inning.

&uot;I told our guys that great teams and winners overcome adversity, and sometimes you just have to have a gut check and do what it takes to win,&uot; Davis said. &uot;We had some divine intervention I guess and scored four runs in that inning to take a 6-5 lead.&uot;

Tavaris Slaughter started the rally with a lead-off single and stole second. Slaughter advanced to third on a wild pitch. Morgan then doubled off the centerfield wall to score Slaughter. Morgan then advanced to third on a Martin sacrifice fly. Morgan scored on a two-out single by Davis, who advanced to second on an error.

Davis was brought home by a bloop to centerfield by Brent Garrett. When the Excel centerfielder and second baseman ran into each other on the bloop, Garrett reached second.

Derrick Swain played hero and drove in the winning run on a line drive double to centerfield.

Swain was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a triple.

&uot;After we scored the runs, Derrick told me that Excel would not score another run, and they didn’t&uot; Davis said. &uot;He went out there the next two innings and shut them down.&uot;

The Yellow Jackets will next play in-county and Class 2A rival Calera in the semifinals. Calera defeated Houston Academy in a best-of-three series last weekend to reach the semifinals.

&uot;Ken (Copen, head coach of Calera) called me before they played Houston Academy and asked me how good they were,&uot; Davis said. &uot;I told him I thought they were the best team in Class 2A. So now I think the best team in 2A is Calera.

&uot;Ken and I joked around at the beginning of the playoffs about having an all-Shelby County semifinal,&uot; Davis continued. &uot;We both really wanted it, and now that’s what it will be.&uot;

The two schools will meet Friday at 5:30 and 7 p.m. at Vincent. Game three will be at 1 p.m. Saturday if necessary