Helena goes 4-1 in Buccaneer Classic

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HOOVER–The Helena High School baseball team was hard at work the week of spring break, as the Huskies competed against more than a dozen quality high school baseball teams in the 2018 Buccaneer Classic.

The Huskies proved to be a top contender going 4-1 in the tournament before eventually falling to tournament host and champion Hoover by a score of 5-4.

Helena defeated Springville 20-0 and Hazel Green 7-2 on day one and went 2-1 in the final two days. Below is a recap of how the Huskies fared in the final three games of the tournament.

Game 3. Helena 9 – Houston (Tenn.) 7

In a game that took three extra innings to decide a winner, it was Helena that eventually broke through in the top of the 10th to score two runs to capture an exciting 9-7 win on Friday, March 30.

Helena and Houston went blow-for-blow with multiple ties and lead changes as the Huskies collected 13 hits, while Houston finished with 11.

Houston jumped on Helena early with two runs in the bottom of the first after Helena pitcher Tristin Waters issued five walks in the inning.

Helena gained back a run in the top half of the second inning and scored three runs in the third inning to regain the lead.

Trailing 3-1, an error and back-to-back singles cut the Houston lead to 3-2.

After a hit by pitch to load the bases, Landon Green came through and hit a two-RBI double to give the Huskies a 4-3 lead.

A sacrifice fly by Houston in the bottom of the third tied the game 4-4, and the most productive inning came one inning later.

A hit by pitch, single and two walks gave Houston a 5-4 lead, followed by a fielder’s choice and an RBI single to extend the lead to 7-4.

Needing runs, Helena responded in the top of the fifth inning with back-to-back RBI singles from Luke Stamba and JC Wilburn to trim Houston’s lead to 7-6.

Two innings later, Helena still trailed by a run down to its final out with runners on second and third. Trevor Bell stepped in the batter’s box and hit a hard ground ball that resulted in a Houston error to tie the game 7-7.

Once in extra innings, both teams had trouble pushing a run across until the Huskies broke through in the top of the 10th inning.

Three singles in the inning and a walk issued by Houston gave Helena a 9-7 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Despite giving up a single and a walk, Helena kept Houston off the scoreboard in the bottom of the 10th to preserve the win.

Helena pitchers Waters and Blake Howard combined to throw three innings and surrendered seven runs until Josh Daugherty entered the game and shut Houston down.

Daugherty threw seven innings and allowed no runs and struck out four on 115 pitches to earn the win.

Game 4. Helena 17 – Spain Park 2

After a 10-inning marathon earlier in the day, Helena came back the same evening and put on a clinic against the Spain Park Jaguars in a 17-2 win.

Tied 1-1 heading to the third inning, Helena’s Colton Hood hit an RBI single and Green followed with a two-RBI double to make it 4-1 Helena.

Hood added another RBI single two innings later to make it 5-1, but the majority of Helena’s runs came in the final inning.

Leading 7-2, the Huskies put the game out of reach in the top of the seventh inning as Stamba, Bell, Nick Ragsdale, John Stephen Heacock, Stephen Smith and Landon Leake all hit RBI singles as a hit by pitch, error and fielder’s choice led to three more runs to complete the 10-run inning.

Moss, Heacock, Hood and Stamba all finished with multiple hits, while Heacock, Hood and Stamba all had three RBIs a piece.

Helena pitchers Green and Smith combined to throw a two-hit game as Green struck out six and allowed just one earned run over 5 and one-thirds innings pitched.

Game 5. Helena 4 – Hoover 5

After leading by two runs through five complete innings, Hoover rallied from a two-run deficit to defeat Helena 5-4 in a tough semifinal matchup of the Buccaneer Classic on Saturday, March 31.

Helena held a 4-2 lead after scoring three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on an error and two-RBI single by Ragsdale, but Hoover responded two innings later.

With the Bucs trailing 4-2, Peyton Wilson got things going in the top of the sixth inning with a leadoff double. What ensued next was exactly what Hoover wanted as Sonny DiChiara hit the game-tying two-run home run, followed by Preston Moore hitting a solo home run to give Hoover a 5-4 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Helena stranded runners at first and second as Hoover kept the slim 5-4 lead.

After hitting the two-run home run, DiChiara also got things done on the mound to close out the game. DiChiara struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh inning to record the save and get the win for Hoover.

Despite giving up back-to-back home runs, Helena starting pitcher Blake McAbee was still effective. He pitched a complete seven innings while allowing just four hits and surrendering one walk.

After the tournament, Helena now sits at 15-9 on the season as they face two critical area games against Chelsea the week of April 2.

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