Briarwood takes first game against Shelby County

First-year Briarwood Christian School baseball coach Steve Renfroe made a pretty bold statement following the Lions’ 5-4 extra-inning win over Shelby County in the opening game of the second round in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 5A playoffs April 23.

Renfroe, who has led the Auburn University baseball program in NCAA and SEC tournament games during his coaching career, put Friday’s game among his career highlights minutes after the victory.

“That was one of the best baseball games I’ve ever been involved in,” Renfroe said. “Plays were made on both sides. We were fortunate to squeak one out.”

Severe weather postponed the second game of the best-of-three series. The two teams are scheduled to play the second game and if-necessary third game April 24 with the opener slated for 11 a.m.

Both Briarwood Christian and Shelby County delivered timely hits and pitched out of jams before junior Brett Conner sealed the win for the Lions with his walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Sophomore Matthew Furuto led Briarwood (23-8) at the plate as he finished 2-for-3 with a double and drove in three runs.

Harrison Foster went 2-for-4 at the plate. Conner, Micah Hooper, Paul McKelvey, Logan Crook, Daniel Robert and Tanner Cunningham recorded one hit each.

Conner and Cunningham drove in one run each. Cunningham scored twice. Conner, Hooper and Crook scored one run each.

Cunningham picked up the win in relief after closing out the game without allowing a run on three hits in two innings.

Crook started on the mound and gave up two earned runs on four hits with two strikeouts and a walk in four innings. Will Brown gave up two earned runs on two hits with three strikeouts and two walks in two innings.

Chad King led Shelby County (20-8) at the plate as he went 3-for-5, drove in two runs and scored one run.

Kevin McNorton finished 2-for-2 with two doubles and scored one run. Austin Shelton went 2-for-3 with a double and scored twice.

Evan McNeal and Braten Dill finished with one hit each. Garrett Sellers drove in a run. McNeal and Sellers drove in one run each.

King took the loss for the Wildcats after giving up one earned run two hits with three strikeouts and two walks in the final 1 2/3 innings.

Dill started and gave up four runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts and two walks in six innings.

Shelby County jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Lions rallied with five runs over the final four innings.

McNorton doubled and came home on an RBI groundout by Sellers to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Shelton singled and was driven in by King’s RBI double to push the lead to 2-0 in the top of the third.

Back-to-back RBI singles by McNeal and King in the top of the fourth inning gave Shelby County a 4-0 lead.

Furuto cleared the bases with his three-run double in the bottom half of the inning to cut the lead to 4-3. Crook singled and came home on Cunningham’s sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning.

After King struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the eighth inning, he gave up back-to-back walks before Conner drove in Cunningham with his RBI single to clinch the first game of the series.

“It’s just one of those games you hate for any team to lose because it was such a great game,” said Shelby County coach Shane Beasley. “I’m proud of our guys for fighting the whole game.”