Hillcrest forces game three in first-round playoff series with Pelham

The Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa Patriots came storming back in game one and then came out swinging in game two to force a third and final game Saturday in the first round of the Class 6A baseball playoffs against Pelham.

The Panthers opened a 1-0 lead in the first inning over the Patriots in game one, and then added four runs in the fourth inning to go up 5-0.

But the Patriots would not quit, rallying to score four runs in the final inning to fall 5-4.

In the second game, it was all Hillcrest as the Patriots scored a run in the first, three in the third, one in the fourth and two in the fifth to take the 7-1 game two victory.

“We made way too many mistakes, and we pitched awful,” Pelham head coach Jeff Mauldin said of the Panthers’ game two performance. “When you make mistakes against a good team, you’re going to get beat.”

In the first game, Trae Santos led the Panthers at the plate with 2-for-3 performance and an RBI.

Reed Bright was next for the Panthers with a two-run homerun in the fourth inning, followed by Michael Herring with a single and two RBIs.

Jake Vickerson led Hillcrest with a single and two RBIs, followed by Chase Fields with an RBI single.

Trevor Fitts (11-0) earned the win for the Panthers, finishing with nine strikeouts.

The Panthers did commit two errors in the game one victory.

In the second game, the Panthers committed four errors and only managed three hits.

Santos scored the only run for the Panthers on a fourth-inning homerun.

Fields led the Patriots with a two-run homerun, followed by Lance Wilson and Tim Anderson with an RBI double apiece. Terrance Dedrick finished with a single and an RBI.

Santos (8-1) picked up his first loss of the season for the Panthers, while Dedrick struck out nine to earn the victory.

The two teams will play in the decisive game three Saturday, April 17 at Pelham at 1 p.m.