Oak Mountain clinches playoff berth with win over Thompson
By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor
NORTH SHELBY — Thompson High School baseball coach Pat Hamrick consoled his players following a 4-2 loss to Oak Mountain in their final Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A, Area 10 game April 14, which knocked the Warriors out of the running for a berth in the Class 6A playoffs.
In the midst of the somber scene Hamrick was able to sum up the Warriors run through the gauntlet in area play, which included a huge win over rival Pelham but not enough victories to continue the season.
“That’s what makes this area special,” Hamrick said.
Meanwhile, the Eagles celebrated in the home dugout after clinching their first bid to the Class 6A playoffs in two years following a sweep of Thompson.
Senior Jake Hubbard plated the game-winning run with his RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“This is what we’ve been striving for all year,” Hubbard said.
Richard Greene led Oak Mountain (18-12 overall, 4-2 in Class 6A, Area 10) at the plate as he finished 2-for-3 with a double and drove in a run.
John David (J.D.) Crowe, who scored a run and recorded a stolen base, finished 1-for-2 at the plate with a double. Hubbard went 1-for-2 at the plate and drove in a run. David Dahl finished 1-for-3 at the plate.
Connor Pinegar drove in one run and scored one run in the victory. Pinch runner Trey Page scored two runs.
Robby Clements earned the win on the mound after giving up just one earned run on seven hits with five strikeouts and two walks in a complete game.
“Robby is just a grinder,” said first-year Oak Mountain coach Brian Breeze. “He’s able to just hold on.”
Matt Haskins led Thompson (22-14 overall, 2-4 in Class 6A, Area 10) as he finished 2-for-4 at the plate. Haskins drove in one run and scored one run in the defeat.
Tyler Gamble finished 2-for-3 at the plate. Conner Gill finished 1-for-2 at the plate with a double and scored a run. Chad Collum went 1-for-3 at the plate.
Jonathan Keller finished 1-for-2 at the plate. Gus Williford drove in one run.
Aron McRee started for the Warriors and took the loss on the mound after giving up three earned runs on five hits with 11 strikeouts and one walk in 5 1/3 innings.
“Aron threw great,” Hamrick said. “He stepped up to a different level.”
Jake Hester closed out the game with a strikeout in the 2/3 of an inning.
The Warriors jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Haskins led off with an infield single down the third-base line before moving to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor Bria. Haskins scored on a sacrifice fly RBI by Williford.
Oak Mountain responded with a run in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game at 1-1.
Crowe led off the inning with a double before moving to third base on a wild pitch by McRee. Crowe scored on an RBI groundout by Pinegar.
The Eagles temporarily took a 2-1 lead with one run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Greene reached base with a single to center field before Page checked in as a courtesy runner. Page moved from first to third on a throwing error by McRee and scored on a passed ball to give Oak Mountain its first lead in the game.
Thompson quickly responded with one run in the top of the fifth inning to tie the game at 2-2.
Gill led off the inning with a double down the left-field line. Gill advanced to third base on a bunt single by Collum before scoring on an RBI single by Haskins. Clements stymied the Warriors momentum with a strikeout, a fly out and a ground out to end the threat after Thompson opened the inning with three consecutive hits.
Oak Mountain plated the game-winning run and an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Pinegar reached on a walk to open the inning before Page entered as a courtesy runner and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Dahl. Hubbard came through with a clutch RBI single to center field to score Page.
Greene pounded a double down the left-field line to score Hubbard, which capped the scoring in the game.
Clements pitched around a walk in the top of the seventh inning. Williford blasted a fly ball to deep center field with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but his potential game-tying two-run shot died at the warning track to end the game.
Breeze said the Eagles should take pride in a winning record in Class 6A, Area 10.
“The players deserve (a playoff berth),” Breeze said. “They put the time and effort in.”