Oak Mountain goes 2-2 at Gulf Coast Classic
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
GULF SHORES – Looking to repeat as Gulf Coast Classic champs during the week of spring break, the Oak Mountain Eagles’ baseball team traveled down to the Alabama coast to compete on the tournament March 26-28.
While the Eagles ended up going 2-2 with wins against Hendersonville and Corner and losses to Russell County and Foley by a combined three runs, Oak Mountain had some impressive accomplishments during the tournament and built confidence heading into the last leg of the regular season.
Below is a recap from each game.
Game 1: Oak Mountain 1 – Russell County 3
Despite outhitting Russell County 7-6 in the opener of the tournament, Oak Mountain left seven base runners in scoring position during the game to fall by a final of 3-1.
The Eagles had plenty of chances in the game thanks to two doubles from Caleb Ragland, who went 2-for-4 at the plate, and one double from Andrew Heiberger, who went 2-for-2 at the plate, but Jackson Hughley himself was enough to carry Russell County with his two RBIs and one home run during the game.
Oak Mountain also had faith in Gene Hurst, who tossed a complete game. Hurst kept the Eagles in the game despite giving up three earned runs. He also struck out six batters and allowed just six hits.
Landon Cato scored Oak Mountain’s only run after a 1-for-3 day, while Hurst and Dylan Fraser picked up the other two hits.
Game 2: Oak Mountain 2 – Hendersonville (Tenn.) 0
While the offense still hadn’t found its way to Gulf Shores, the second game of the tournament was much better for Oak Mountain and it was all because of a stellar performance on the mound from Jackson Kimbrell.
Taking on a top ranked team from Tennessee, Kimbrell struck out 15 of the 25 batters he faced. As a matter of fact, the first 12 outs recorded came by way of strike out for the impressive lefty. He ended up allowing just one hit and three walks in the game on 100 pitches.
Combined with Hurst, the Eagles had thrown out two of the best pitchers in the state in the first two games of the tournament.
Scoring wise, Oak Mountain scored two runs in the game, one in the top of the third when Luke Percer crossed the plate and one in the top of the seventh when Jack Wilson scored on a passed ball.
Crazily enough, both runs were scored on plays that ultimately ended in outs as a Percer scored during a play that was ultimately a double play and Wilson scored during an at bat that ended in a strike out.
Oak Mountain’s three hits came from Heiberger, Hurst and Caleb Kennedy.
Game 3: Oak Mountain 17 – Corner 6
The Eagles finally found some offense in the third game of the tournament and it came in a hurry as they scored 17 runs in a three-inning stretch to take down Corner 17-6 in a shortened five-inning game.
Oak Mountain scored three runs in the second, nine in the third and five in the fourth to complete all of the team’s offense, while Corner put up one in the third and five in the fourth.
After his stellar game on the mound the game before, Kimbrell led the charge at the plate during game three as well. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles and drove in three runs while scoring three of his own.
Fraser (1-for-2), Heiberger (1-for-2), Kennedy (1-for-1), Percer (1-for-1) and Kade Sanders (1-for-2) all tallied one double in the game as well.
Kennedy’s double was a bases-clearing double with the bases loaded that led to him tying for a game-high three RBIs.
Carlton Lucas got the start and tossed four innings allowing eight hits and six runs while striking out two. Hunter Hall pitched the final inning and allowed two hits.
Game 4: Oak Mountain 2 – Foley 3
Oak Mountain was able to score two runs in the second inning, which led to a 2-1 lead at the end of the inning, but the bats couldn’t get going the rest of the way as Foley picked up two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to end the Eagles’ tournament with a tough 3-2 loss.
Cato got Oak Mountain’s day started with a spark when he homered to center field on the first pitch he saw in the top of the second inning to give the Eagles an early 1-0 advantage.
After a double from Gene Hurst during the following at bat, two sacrifice flies from Heiberger and Wilson, respectively, brought Hurst in for the 2-0 lead.
Oak Mountain then left the bases loaded in the top of the third before putting just two more base runners on the rest of the game, which led to Foley’s three unanswered runs to end the game.
Cato and Hurst recorded the only two hits for Oak Mountain in the loss, while Wilson had the team’s only other RBI aside from Cato’s home run.
Heiberger got the start on the mound and tossed the first three innings allowing just one hit and one earned run. Sanders finished the game off allowing three hits and two runs while striking out one.
Oak Mountain moved its record to 18-7 at the conclusion of the tournament.