Panthers win rivalry game in extra innings

Pelham High School senior Hunter Soleymani delivers a pitch to the plate in the Panthers' 4-2 win over rival Thompson in an Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A, Area 10 contest March 27. (Reporter Photo /Wesley Hallman)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

ALABASTER — Pelham High School baseball coach Jeff Mauldin had already called for a pinch hitter for Robert Wilson once March 27 in the Panthers’ opening game in Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A, Area 10 play against rival Thompson.

Wilson, who struck out in his first three plate appearances, was lifted for a pinch hitter a runner in the top of the seventh inning with a runner on third base.

Facing the same situation in the top of the ninth inning, Mauldin could have pinch hit for Wilson again but he decided to give the senior one last opportunity to drive in the game-winning run.

Wilson came through in the clutch for the Panthers, delivering an RBI single in the top of the ninth to lift Pelham to a 4-2 win over the Warriors.

“(Wilson) handled that situation really well,” Mauldin said. “He did a good job separating his at-bats.”

Ty Pierce led Pelham as he finished 3-for-4 at the plate and scored a pair of runs.

Hunter Stovall finished 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and drove in one run. Thomas Lowery went 2-for-5 at the plate. Jackson Pruitt finished 1-for-4 at the plate. Fletcher Johnson scored one run.

Pelham benefitted from a spectacular pitching performance by Hunter Soleymani, who pitched a nine-inning complete game. Soleymani gave up two earned runs in the first inning on three hits before ending the night with eight hitless innings. Soleymani struck out 10 batters and issued only one walk.

“You would have to drag (Soleymani) off the mound kicking and screaming,” Mauldin said. “To no-hit them for eight innings was phenomenal.”

Houston Davenport led Thompson at the plate as he finished 1-for-4 with a triple and drove in two runs.

Dee Tolbert and Colby Sherman each went 1-for-3 at the plate. Tolbert and Sherman scored one run each.

Soleymani’s night overshadowed a solid performance by Thompson starter Jake Walters, who gave up just two earned runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings before leaving with a no-decision. Walters finished with six strikeouts and five walks.

Aron McRee took the loss after giving up two runs, including one earned run, on three hits with five strikeouts and one walk in 2 1/3 innings in relief.