Clean sweep for Calera propels them to 2nd round

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

CALERA – It might have been the first round of the 2017 postseason, but Calera acted like it was every other game of the season as they dominated on the mound and at the plate and brought out the brooms to grab a clean sweep in their first-round matchup with St. Paul’s Episcopal School on Friday, April 21.

If you’ve watched the Eagles play this season, you know their two aces on the mound in Jacob Smith and Tyler O’Clair are tough one-two punch for any offense to have to deal with, and that trend continued in their two wins over the Saints. Both went six innings in their respective game, while Smith picked up an 11-1 win in game one and O’Clair an 8-4 win in game two.

As they’ve done all season they matched their pitching with support at the plate as they combined to outhit St. Paul’s 17-7.

Game 1: Calera 11 – St. Paul’s Episcopal 1 

Throughout this season, O’Claire has slowly proven himself as one of the best players not only in Shelby County, but in the state. In game one of the doubleheader, his offensive firepower combined with Smith’s always dominating arm on the mound led to an 11-1 run-rule win over the Saints.

The Eagles scored in all but one of the shortened six-inning game having their most productive innings in the third, fifth and sixth as they scored four, two and three in those innings respectively.

Calera grabbed their first lead in the bottom of the first after Austin McKinney doubled to center field before eventually coming around to score on a passed ball. St. Paul’s answered in the top of the second with a run of their own to tie the game early at one apiece. The Eagles stole the lead right back in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a double from Smith who scored on a sac fly from Kevin Dowdell.

After Smith Struck out the side in the top of the third, Calera put together their best offensive inning of the game. O’Clair had a two-RBI single at one point in the inning, but two more runs crossed the plate thanks to a passed ball and a dropped third strike as the Eagles had busted the game wide open and taken a 6-1 lead after three.

The Saints weren’t able to score the remainder of the game, while Calera put up five more combined runs between the fifth and sixth innings to win 11-1.

Smith went the distance allowing just one hit, no walks and one unearned run, while striking out an unbelievable 11 batters.

O’Clair went 2-4 at the plate with three RBIs and two runs scored. McKinney also had a multi-hit game going 2-4 with two runs scored. Quin Darius Crew, Christian Hall and Smith also added hits in the win.

Game 2: Calera 8 – St. Paul’s Episcopal 4 

Game two was a little more stressful for the Eagles, and by a little, I mean the smallest amount possible. After falling behind 2-0 in the bottom of the first and 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth, Calera responded with big innings to claim the lead and eventually an 8-4 win to complete the sweep and advance to the second round.

O’Clair got the start on the mound in game two and started a bit rusty allowing a double and back-to-back singles in the first inning, which allowed the Saints to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. He settled in after that, however, and only allowed three more hits and two more runs the remainder of the game.

Calera answered St. Paul’s two-run first with a three-run top of the third. The Eagles started the inning with an error, a walk and a single. That was followed by an RBI single from Crew, an RBI ground out from O’Clair and a Will Glasscock score on a passed ball as Calera took a 3-2 lead.

The Saints were able to reclaim the lead in the fifth after a hit batter, a double and a two-RBI single led them to a 4-3 lead.

The Eagles answered that with their best offensive inning of the game in the top of the sixth. They started the inning with three consecutive singles, one of which was an RBI base hit from Tyler Ferguson. A McKinney sac fly, a Crew triple and an O’Clair single brought in three more runs as Calera had opened up a 7-4 lead.

They added one more in the top of the seventh before Jaxon Butterworth came in to claim the save in the bottom of the seventh as the Eagles took game two 8-4.

Glasscock, O’Clair, Crew and Dowdell all had two hits in the game. McKinney, Crew, O’Clair, Dowdell and Ferguson all grabbed an RBI. O’Clair went six innings on the mound allowing six hits and four runs while striking out seven.

The Eagles will now advance to face the winner of Moody and Rehobeth in round two of the 5A playoffs.

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