St. Paul’s downs Briarwood

Published 11:31 pm Friday, May 8, 2009

It took four innings for Briarwood’s bats to wake up, as the Lions fell to rival St. Paul’s, 8-4, Friday in the first game of the Class 5A best-of-three semifinal series in Mobile.

“For the first time in the playoffs this year we came out a little nervous,” Briarwood head coach Lee Hall said. “It took about four innings defensively, offensively and pitching wise to settle down and play like we’ve played all year long.”

Playing that way meant hitting the ball, something Evan Simmons and Logan Crook did Friday, as they both went 2-for-4 and drove in runs. What hurt the Lions the most was the free bases.

“We lost the freebie war, and when you lose the freebie war you get in trouble,” Hall said.

Eighth-grade pitcher Tanner Cunningham allowed all eight runs, five of which were earned before being relieved by David Woods in the bottom of the sixth. Cunningham walked four, hit five and the Lions had three errors, while St. Paul’s ace A.J. McCarron walked one and hit one and St. Paul’s had one error.

Starting in the fifth inning, Briarwood rallied late in the game to put up four runs. Hall said he told his players to find their groove and let it carry over into Saturday when the two teams meet again at 1 p.m.

Hall said the loss, hasn’t discouraged the Lions.

“We’re not discouraged one bit. I preached to our guys the further you get to the playoffs, a two-out-of-three series is usually going to go three games, because the deeper you get the better the teams get. By the end of the day tomorrow the best team will have one this series and on their way to play for a state championship,” Hall said.

Ben Bracewell will take the mound for Briarwood in game two of the series at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by game three at 3:30, if necessary.