Calera, Chelsea split double-header

Published 3:03 pm Wednesday, March 14, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

CALERA – Through the first month of the 2018 baseball season, Calera and Chelsea have both proven one thing—they can win a state championship in their respective classification come May.

The two met for the first time on the diamond on Tuesday, March 13, in a double-header at Calera High School and in expected fashion neither team was able to sweep the series as they split the two games. Below is a recap from each with the Hornets (11-3) taking game one and the Eagles (10-2) taking game two.

Game 1: Chelsea 5 – Calera 4

 In a weird game, Chelsea was able to score three runs in the top of the seventh inning to pick up a 5-4 win in game one of the double header after trailing 4-2 heading into the inning.

The Hornets did strike first, however, in the top of the third with two runs to take a 2-0 lead. With two outs in the inning, Will Hayes reached base after being hit by a pitch, Clay DeWeese reached on a walk and Will Root nailed a double to right field to score both guys after three successful at bats in a row.

The weird part about the game was those two runs were the only two runs in the first five innings of play from either side.

While quietness was the story early on, that changed in the bottom of the sixth as Calera looked to pull off the comeback win.

An error, a walk and another error allowed Chris McGibboney, Kevin Dowdell and John Ellison to all reach base and load the bases with no outs in the inning.

With one swing of the bat in the next at bat, Tyler O’Clair was able to tie the game with a two-RBI single to center field that plated McGibboney and Dowdell.

Two batters later, Ellison was able to score on a passed ball to give the Eagles the lead at 3-2. They added to that lead when Christian Hall struck a two-out single to right field to allow O’Clair to cross the plate.

All of a sudden after not scoring for five innings of play, Calera had stormed in front to take a 4-2 lead.

That’s when Chelsea was able to answer with its three-run top of the seventh to steal back the lead and win the first game of the double-header.

Chelsea used one hit in the inning from Jacob Tinnell, an RBI single, but the rest of the runs were due to three walks in the inning, a hit batter, a passed ball and a steal of home.

With the bases loaded in the inning and still trailing 4-3 with two outs, Tinnell was able to score on a passed ball to tie the game. Four pitches later in a 3-2 county, the Hornets took a chance and sent Nolan Forehand home to attempt a steal, which he did safely to break the tie for good and give Chelsea the 5-4 win.

Root led the way at the plate for Chelsea in the game going 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Five players picked up hits, while Tinnell had the only other RBI.

Brendon Case got the start on the mound for the Hornets and went five innings and allowed four unearned runs and two hits, while striking out four.

O’Clair got the start for Calera and went six innings allowing four hits and two runs, while striking out seven batters. He also led the team at the plate going 1-for-3 with two RBIs. 

Game 2: Calera 6 – Chelsea 2

The second game of the series was weirdly similar, but Jacob Smith and Graham Blankenship combined for a no-hitter to lead Calera to a 6-2 victory to split the double-header.

Calera struck first in the bottom of the third with one run when McGibboney was able to score after an error was made by DeWeese. McGibboney was able to get into scoring position thanks to a leadoff double.

That was the only run in the first four innings of action as the Eagles held a 1-0 lead until the top of the fifth.

Despite Smith being locked in on the mound, Chelsea was able to grab two runs in the inning. C Frederick was able to lead off the inning with a walk, before eventually reaching second on a sacrifice bunt from B Horton.

A passed ball allowed Frederick to advance to third during the next at bat before a balk brought him home for the Hornets’ first run of the game. Two batters later Turner Griffin was able to score on a dropped third strike after stealing third just two pitches earlier.

All of a sudden, despite not having a hit in the game, Chelsea was leading 2-1 after the top of the fifth.

That changed with one swing of the bat in the bottom half of the inning. After McGibboney reached base thanks to being hit by a pitch, Dowdell stepped to the plate and drove a ball over the right field fence for a two-run home run as Calera took the lead back immediately at 3-2.

From that point forward, the Eagles ended the game with three more runs, one in the fifth and two in the sixth, thanks to singles from O’Clair to win by the final score of 6-2.

Smith (8) and Blankenship (3) combined to throw 11 strike outs in the game and gave up just four walks.

O’Clair ended the game 2-for-3 with three RBIs and one walk. Dowdell had two RBIs after his two-run home run.

Cameron Gage got the start for Chelsea and struck out six batters in four innings of work.