Rottier goes the distance as Pelham hands Calera first loss of season

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

CALERA – Coming into the 2018 baseball season, the Pelham Panthers were a bit of an unknown after a down year in 2017, while the Calera Eagles were expected to compete for a state championship in the 5A classification.

After both teams flew out of the gates to start the new season with a combined record of 9-0, one team was going to have to suffer its first loss of the season when they squared off against each other on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Calera came into the matchup with wins over Mountain Brook and Homewood in its last two outings, two very good teams up a classification, while Pelham had win over a good Spain Park team in its last outing.

The Panthers were coming off of more rest, however, and were able to throw their ace on the mound in Mitchell Rottier. The senior pitcher went the distance allowing just four hits, which was the difference in the game as Pelham pulled off the 4-2 win.

While Calera was never out of the game, the Eagles gave up 13 hits in the contest, while only grabbing just four hits of their own.

A big reason for the lopsided box score was star pitchers Jackson Butterworth, Jacob Smith and Tyler O’Clair weren’t available in the game due to short rest, which made it a much longer day.

Through four innings of the contest none of that mattered, however, as the two teams were in a one run game.

Pelham struck first in the top of the first inning when Garrett Stonicher drove a two-out double left field to put the Panthers in business.

Kasey Clark was next to the plate and he wasted no time driving in the game’s first run by taking the first pitch he saw and singling to right field to bring Stonicher in for the early 1-0 lead.

The next two-and-a-half innings went by very quietly, before four combined runs in the fourth inning led to some excitement.

Pelham started it off in the top of the fourth by extending its lead with two more runs. The Panthers used singles from Will Pierce, Kyle Camlic and Rottier to post the two runs in the inning. Rottier’s single drove in both runs.

In the bottom half of the inning, Calera was able to use a hit batter, a single from O’Clair and a single from Graham Blankenship to post two runs of its own and cut the deficit back to one run at 3-2.

Pelham answered right back in the top of the fifth inning with a double from Stonicher and an RBI-single from Hunter Stowe one batter later to extend its lead to 4-2.

Rottier locked in, never relinquishing the lead after his team built the 1-0 lead in the first inning. He finished off the final three innings without allowing a run to go the distance and earn the win.

The only runs he allowed were sandwiched in between six shutout innings. Rottier ended the game allowing two earned runs and four hits, while striking out three.

He also led the Panthers at the plate going 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Stonicher was 3-for-3 with two runs scored.

O’Clair was 1-for-3 at the plate for Calera, while Blankenship was 1-for-3 with an RBI.