Pelham pitches Fitts to advance to third round of baseball playoffs

Following the Friday, April 24 game-one victory and postponement of game two due to lightning in the second round of the Class 6A baseball playoffs, Pelham head coach Jeff Maudlin knew he might have to go back to senior pitcher Trevor Fitts as the Panthers trailed Spain Park 5-0.

Fitts, who struck out 10 batters in the complete-game 5-0 shutout over the Jaguars Friday, had to change his rehab process following a game to get ready on just three days rest.

On Sunday, Mauldin gave Fitts the choice of whether to come in as a closer, in middle relief or to start if a game three was necessary.

“I didn’t even finish the sentence and he said ‘I want to start,’” Mauldin said. “He’s an absolute warrior.”

Although Fitts gave up two runs Monday, April 26 in the first inning of game three following Spain Park’s 9-5 game-two victory, he finished what he started, striking out nine in the Panthers’ 5-2 victory to advance to the third round of the playoffs.

“We were just going to see how it went,” Mauldin said of how long he planned to pitch Fitts. “But he gave up only one hit after that first inning and I think he pitched one more pitch than I wanted him to.

“I won’t hold that against him,” he added with a laugh.

The Jaguars took an early lead in the top half of the first inning in game three when Carter White blasted a homerun, followed by Chris Ellis, who picked up the loss on the mound, with an RBI double.

The Panthers answered when the Bishop twins, Michael and Andrew, both got on base to start the inning before Tripp Martin brought Michael in on a sacrifice fly and Andrew scored on a passed ball.

The Panthers had a runner on third in the second inning, but he got caught in a rundown to end the inning.

However, Pelham would increase the lead for good in the third inning when Martin blasted a three-run homerun to close out the scoring.

“The difference in the game was one pitch,” Spain Park head coach Will Smith said. “You can’t take anything away from Pelham. You’ve got to give them credit. They have all the intangibles it takes to be a champion.”

The Jaguars advanced to the second round after falling to Tuscaloosa County in the first round of the playoffs, but a Tuscaloosa pitcher was ruled ineligible a day later and the Wildcats were forced to forfeit.

Smith said his kids proved they belonged all along.

“You don’t back your way into anything with 30 wins in the league we play in,” Smith said. “The last thing I said to these guys before we got off the bus was that we were not going to have any regrets. I’m proud of all of these guys. They left their guts out there.”

The Jaguars had no regrets in game two as they held off a furious comeback by the Panthers to win 9-5, thus forcing a game three.

The Jags scored one run in the first inning on an Aaron Haag RBI single before increasing the lead to 5-0 in the second.

Jake Lee hit an RBI single before Carter White smashed a two-RBI triple to put the Jags up 4-0. Haag knocked in another run in the second.

When play resumed Monday, the Panthers cut the lead to 5-3 when Martin and Michael Herring each knocked a two-out RBI single.

The Jags answered when Mikey White knocked an RBI single and later scored on a passed ball.

The Panthers once again cut the lead in the sixth when Michael Bishop blasted a two-run homerun, but the Jags answered on an errant throw from the Pelham catcher to third base, allowing two runs to score to close out the scoring.

Mikey White picked up the win for the Jags, while Trae Santos picked up the loss for the Panthers.

The Panthers will play host to Grissom April 30 at 4:30 p.m. The Panthers defeated Grissom earlier in the season, 3-2 and 5-4.