Briarwood overcomes 8-run deficit to advance with walk-off
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
NORTH SHELBY – Facing elimination and trailing Beauregard 8-0, Briarwood’s baseball season was on the verge of extinction on Saturday, April 21.
Thanks to a senior named Michael Hiers, there was no reason for Briarwood to sweat the largest deficit it had faced all season.
It started with a two-run double in the bottom of the third from Hiers that put the Lions on the board cutting the deficit to 8-2 and came full circle when he drove the walk-off game-winning single to right field in the bottom of the seventh to complete the comeback win.
Hiers’ game-winning hit was laced to right field and the right fielder attempted a tough catch but couldn’t come up with the ball, which allowed Sam Hamner to cross the plate, who had doubled earlier in the inning to drive in the game-tying run.
Overcome with excitement, Hiers couldn’t help but just jump around. He emphatically threw both arms up in the air with one finger on each hand pointed to the sky jumping for joy while the players in the dugout erupted and stormed the field chasing after him.
A celebration ensued with each player embracing in a hug with another player and pumping their fists like Tiger Woods in his prime. It was a celebration worth the excitement as the Lions will now continue their season by taking on Calera in round two of the playoffs on Friday, May 4.
After splitting the first two games of the series the night before, Beauregard stormed out to an early 8-0 lead through two innings in the win-or-go-home game on Saturday thanks to four runs in the first and four more runs in the second.
It put the Lions in a deep dark hole, but there was no quit in this group that had won 15 games in a row coming into the series.
After Hiers started the comeback in the third, Wesley Helms helped in the effort with an RBI-double to right field that drove in Hiers to cut the deficit to 8-3 through three innings.
It was still a major uphill battle in front of the Lions, but Andrew Ponder gave his team a chance on the mound.
Ponder came in after a struggle in the mound early and was able to pitch the final five and one third innings allowing just two hits and no runs while striking out seven batters.
His dominance on the mound gave the Lions confidence at the plate that the deficit wouldn’t get any larger.
While Briarwood couldn’t get any closer during the next two innings and went into the bottom of the sixth still trailing 8-3, the Lions were just getting started.
Christian Ferguson started the inning with a walk to put a runner on base early, but two consecutive outs followed to make scoring a run in the inning look slim.
That changed when Carson Eddy stepped to the plate and drove in Hudson Hartsfield, who reached on a fielder’s choice, with a double to right field to add one more run to their comeback effort. Eddy scored shortly after to make the score 8-5 at the end of six innings.
After a 1-2-3 inning defensively, Briarwood had a chance to pull off a special comeback in the bottom of the seventh.
The inning started with a walk to Helms and an error to Bryce Perrien to quickly put to base runners on with no outs.
With the Beauregard pitcher now shaken up a little, Eli Steadman stepped to the plate and drove a ground ball to center field that cleared the bases by scoring both Helms and Perrien to bring Briarwood within one run.
A sac bunt moved Steadman into scoring position and Briarwood capitalized quickly when Hamner hit a one-out double to center field to tie the game.
Hartsfield then lined out, which was followed by an intentional walk to Eddy as Beauregard chose to face Hiers instead. That was a decision that cost them the game when Hiers completed the miraculous comeback with his walk-off single to right field.
Hiers has been on fire as of late and finished the game 3-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs, one walk and one run scored. Scott finished the game 3-for-4 at the plate as well, while Eddy and Hamner each had two hits and one RBI.
The Lions outhit Beauregard 14-10 in the win as well.
Briarwood will now travel to Calera next Friday for its second round best of three series as they look to advance to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.