Dominant pitching lifts Helena to first round sweep of Chilton County
By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer
HELENA–After defeating Chelsea in a tiebreaker to win the regular season area championship, the Helena Huskies varsity baseball team was rewarded with home field advantage in its first-round matchup with Chilton County on April 20, and they took advantage of the opportunity sweeping the Tigers 2-0 in the best of three game series.
In the double header, Helena allowed just four hits and one run in two games against the Tigers to win 2-0 and 5-1 to advance to the second round of the AHSAA 6A baseball state playoffs. Below are recaps of how both games went down.
Game 1. Helena 2 – Chilton County 0
In game one of the double header, Helena starting pitcher Richard Fitts tossed a complete game shutout and the Huskies got just enough offense in a 2-0 win over Chilton County.
Helena would get on the scoreboard first thanks to a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Fitts moved Brody Moss into scoring position, Nick Ragsdale belted a line drive to deep left field for an RBI double to score Moss giving Helena a 1-0 lead.
In the middle innings, both pitchers got into a groove as neither offense could get things going.
The score remained 1-0 Helena until the bottom of the sixth inning when a critical error by Chilton County led to another run for the Huskies.
With one out and no one on base, Landon Green hit a ball to centerfield that was dropped allowing Green to cruise into second base with a double. The Huskies took advantage of the error as Nick Thompson hit an RBI single to score Green to make it 2-0.
Fitts sat Chilton County down in order in the top of the seventh inning on two groundouts and a strike out to earn the complete game win. Fitts allowed just two hits and struck out nine in the shutout of the Tigers.
Ragsdale went 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead Helena at the plate.
Game 2. Helena 5 – Chilton County 1
One big inning and another complete game on the mound helped Helena complete the sweep of Chilton County by a score of 5-1 in game two.
The Huskies scored all five of their runs in the top of the second inning that began with a leadoff walk.
A sacrifice bunt by Luke Stamba moved Thompson into scoring position followed by a single from Josh Daugherty that put runners at second and third with one out.
Trevor Bell grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Thompson from third to make it 1-0 Helena.
A pair of back-to-back RBI singles by John Stephen Heacock and Fitts helped extend Helena’s lead to 4-0 and the inning was capped off by another RBI single from Green to score Fitts extending the lead to 5-0.
Chilton County’s lone run of the series came in the bottom of the sixth inning of game two after taking advantage of a leadoff double. Two batters later an RBI single made it 5-1 but that’s as close as the Tigers would get.
Helena starting pitcher Brooks Tolbert allowed just two hits and one run in a complete game shutout. He also struck out six batters on just 94 pitches.
After getting things done on the mound in game one, Fitts helped lead Helena at the plate going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.
After the sweep of Chilton County, Helena will now travel to Opelika to face the Bulldogs in a best-of-three series in the second round of the playoffs.
Helena and Opelika will play a doubleheader on Friday, April 27, with game one beginning at 5 p.m. A third game would be Saturday, April 28, at 1 p.m. if necessary.