Oak Mountain picks up 8th straight win to start season

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Coming into their matchup with Clay-Chalkville on Tuesday, Feb. 27, on their home field, the Oak Mountain Eagles had won seven consecutive game to start the season, scoring 69 runs and allowing just 16 in that timespan.

That was good enough for an average of 9.9 runs per game on the offensive side and just 2.3 runs given up per game defensively and on the mound.

Nothing changed in their matchup with the Cougars as Oak Mountain helped that average grow to 10.1 runs per game offensively after a dominating 12-2 win to extend their win streak to eight games.

The Eagles have now outscored their last two opponents, Charles Henderson and Clay-Chalkville, by a combined 30-3 and have scored at least nine runs in their last five games.

While those numbers are impressive, they are a bit misleading as to what happened in the contest against the Cougars.

The final score line read 12-2 with Oak Mountain picking up 14 hits in the game, but through the first five innings of the game, the two teams had battled to a 1-1 tie and were in the middle of a pitcher’s duel.

Oak Mountain’s offense did pick up an early run in the bottom of the first inning, despite just one hit in the frame.

Caleb Ragland was able to pick up that lone hit on a one-out single to second base that put the first runner aboard. Jackson Kimbrell was then hit by a pitch to put two runners on and moving Ragland into scoring position.

During Landon Cato’s at bat, a wild pitch allowed both baserunners to advance into scoring position, before Cato hit a ground ball to first base that allowed Ragland to cross the plate for the game’s first run.

That lead held up for the first three innings of the game as starting pitcher Wesley Dennis was in a zone on the mound. He allowed six baserunners in those three innings, but was able to take advantage of solid defense behind him as well as five strikeouts.

In the top of the fourth, however, Clay was able to bring in the game-tying run. After a walk and an error put two runners on base, the Cougars were able to pick up a two-out single to center field that brought in a run.

The damage was limited to one run, however, as Kimbrell was able to fire the ball from center field all the way home to the catcher Dylan Fraser to pick up the third out of the inning on a play at the plate. 

The next inning-and-a-half was quiet with neither team scoring a run, but in the sixth inning that changed drastically.

In the top half of the inning, the Cougars were able to break the 1-1 tie after stringing together two walks and a single to load the bases with just one out in the inning.

Clay was eventually able to bring in a run on a wild pitch, but unbelievably, Hunter Hall was able to get out of the jam on the mound and limit the damage to just one run as the Eagles trailed 2-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth.

That’s when the game just went berserk.

With a Gene Hurst single wedged between two strikeouts, Oak Mountain had one baserunner on and was down to its last out in the inning still trailing 2-1.

Somehow, unexplainably, the Eagles reeled off 11 consecutive runs after that point. They used five singles, three walks, one double, one home run, a hit batter and several wild pitches to pick up the 10 runs.

Oak Mountain went from down to its last out in the sixth inning to 10-run ruling the Cougars by a final score of 12-2.

Cato led the Eagles at the plate going 2-for-4 with a home run, four RBIs and one run scored. Ragland also had an impressive showing at the plate going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Hurst didn’t pick up an RBI, but was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate, while Kade Sanders also had multiple hits going 2-for-4. Five different players had an RBI in the game, while four of those five had at least two.

Oak Mountain also got at least one hit from eight different players in the game. Dennis pitched four innings on the mound and allowed one unearned run and five hits, while striking out six batters. Hall pitched the final two innings and allowed one hit and one earned run, while striking out four.