Briarwood scores 4 runs in final inning to beat Oak Mountain
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
NORTH SHELBY – In the first of a two-game home-and-home series for Briarwood and Oak Mountain during the week of March 12, the Lions handed the Eagles their second loss of not just the season, but for the second consecutive night as Briarwood pulled off a seventh-inning rally for an 8-4 victory.
Early in the day on Monday, March 12, the Eagles were gaining attention in two national polls with their undefeated 12-0 start leading into a game with Thompson later that night.
Oak Mountain, despite being tied 3-3 in the fourth, went on to lose 5-3 thanks to two Thompson runs in the bottom of the fifth.
One night later, it was almost like déjà vu, except even more difficult of a loss to swallow.
Tied 3-3 after five innings and 4-4 after six innings, Briarwood opened up the scoring in the top-half of the final inning with four runs to break the tie for good.
In a matchup of two of the best teams in the state, it was more one sided in the seventh inning.
Sam Hammner led the inning off with a walk for the Lions to spark the effort. That was followed by an error that allowed Hudson Hartsfield to reach base and a single from Carson Eddy to quickly load the bases with no outs.
During Michael Hiers’ at bat, Hammner was able to cross the plate on a wild pitch to officially break the tie before a strike out for the inning’s first out. An error allowed Parker Scott to not only reach base during the next at bat, but also drove in Hartsfield for Briarwood’s second run of the inning.
One batter later, Wesley Helms drove a ball to right field for an RBI-single that allowed the speedy Eddy to come around to score. On the throw, Helms advanced to second and Scott made his way to third.
After a hit batter, Eli Steadman was able to hit a deep fly ball to left field that allowed Scott to cross the plate for one final Briarwood run in the inning as the Lions had stormed in front 8-4.
Down to its last chance in the bottom of the seventh, Oak Mountain was only able to get one base runner on board when Luke Percer walked. Andrew Ponder was able to pick up back-to-back strike outs after that to close out the game for Briarwood.
For the first five innings of action, however, it was a back-and-forth game with neither team gaining the load of the momentum as they looked like two of the best teams in the state.
The Lions struck first in the top of the first with an RBI-double from Eddy, who drove a ball to center field to score Hamner.
In the bottom of the second, Oak Mountain answered thanks to great base running from Percer. He was placed on first as a courtesy runner after Dylan Fraser was hit by a pitch.
Percer then stole second and advanced to third on a single by Andrew Heiberger. He was then able to score on a beautifully executed sacrifice bunt laid down by Hunter Hall, which tied the game 1-1 at the end of two innings.
In the top half of the third, Briarwood showed its first flash of offensive prowess. Hamner got things started in the inning with a single.
After a fielder’s choice put one down in the inning, Eddy drove a double to left field to put two runners in scoring position. That was followed by an Hiers RBI-single that allowed Hartsfield to cross the plate.
One batter later, Scott grounded out for the inning’s second out, but it allowed Eddy to score and give Briarwood a 3-1 lead.
That lead held up for two innings, but two innings of scoring by the Eagles erased their deficit quickly.
Gene Hurst, who has been dominant this season, stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fourth and rocketed a home run over the right field wall to bring Oak Mountain within a run at 3-2.
One inning later, the Eagles were able to tie the game after C Kennedy doubled and eventually scored on an error during a J Wilson bunt.
The Lions picked up three singles in the top of the sixth that allowed one run to score and give them the advantage right back.
But Hurst said not so fast as he answered with his second home run of the game in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game back up at 4-4.
That’s when Briarwood was able to land the final blow as they brought four unanswered runs home in the top of the seventh to pull off the thrilling win.
Eddy led Briarwood (8-3) at the plate going 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Hiers went 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored. Scott led the Lions with two RBIs, while seven different players picked up a hit and six had at least one RBI.
Hurst had another monstrous day at the plate for Oak Mountain (14-2) going 2-for-3 with his back-to-back home runs. Heiberger also continued his successful season with a 2-for-3 mark at the plate, while Hall picked up the only other RBI.
Jonah Carroll pitched five innings and allowed five hits, four runs and struck out four for Briarwood.
The two teams will play again on Thursday, March 15, at Briarwood.