Hello state finals – Pelham wins intense series against Oak Mountain

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Three Pelham players hit their first home runs of the season with another adding his third, as the Panthers swept Oak Mountain in the AHSAA Class 6A semifinals last Friday.

Pelham, who had hit only four homers as a team before the series, was lifted to victory by game-winning shots in both contests to defeat the Eagles 7-5 and 9-4.

The first came in game one with the score tied at five in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Oak Mountain’s Will Stroup (8-3) walked Shaun Sheehan with two outs, bringing up Pelham outfielder Scott Dickey.

Dickey blasted a Stroup fastball over the wall in left-centerfield for a walk-off home run that had Pelham coach Mike O’Berry jumping up and down behind him as he rounded third base.

Jeff Hebert also went deep earlier in the game for Pelham, picking up his first home run of the year.

Pelham ace Sheehan pitched seven innings and smacked his third homer of the season to lead the Panthers into the top of the eighth with a 4-4 tie in game two.

&uot;I thought Sheehan threw the ball well,&uot; said Pelham head coach Mike O’Berry. &uot; Of course, Sheehan is always able to keep us in the game.&uot;

Brandon Billings became the final Pelham player to make his deep-ball debut, hitting a grand slam to put Pelham up before Sheehan retired the side.

But unfortunate fastballs weren’t the only things forced out of Bobby Hayes Field in the heated baseball rivalry.

Both head coaches were ejected during the series – Oak Mountain’s Tommy Youngblood in game one and Pelham’s O’Berry in game two.

Youngblood was ejected for arguing a play at home plate while O’Berry got tossed during an exchange over the umpire’s decision on a baserunning call.

O’Berry said the Panthers, who finished fourth in Region 6 behind Oak Mountain, Vestavia and Spain Park, is a team that has been full of surprises all season.

&uot;Sometimes you look at them and wonder how they get anything done,&uot; he said. &uot;And then you look at them again and they’re getting it done.&uot;

Pelham will try to get it done again in Montgomery, where the Panthers face Prattville (46-7) for the 6A state championship.

Game one is scheduled for today at 4 p.m. at Paterson Field.

Built in 1949, the 7,000 capacity stadium will be bigger than most high school fields where the Panthers have played this season.

But O’Berry said that could turn into an advantage for Pelham,

a team known for having good speed.

Game two will be at 10 a.m. Thursday with game three (if needed) scheduled for 1 p.m