Early lead holds up as Hazel Green defeats Helena in opening game of 6A state championship

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

MONTGOMERY – The Helena Huskies varsity baseball team finds itself in an awfully similar situation in the Class 6A baseball state championship after dropping a tough opening game by a score of 4-3 to Hazel Green on Thursday, May 17.

If the Huskies want to defend their 6A state championship, they will have to do it the hard way by winning the next two games just like they did in 2017 to defeat Cullman.

The Huskies just couldn’t break through offensively as they left eight runners on base and never got enough timely hits to get an opening game victory.

Helena did get on the scoreboard first however as Landon Green hit an RBI-double to score John Stephen Heacock to make it 1-0 but trouble loomed in the bottom half of the second inning.

Helena starting pitcher Richard Fitts had trouble in the frame allowing four singles. In addition, Helena committed two errors which led to Hazel Green taking a 4-1 lead.

Incredibly, after the rough second inning, Fitts went on to strikeout 10 Hazel Green batters over the final four innings and allowed no hits.

Helena made it a one-run game in the top of the fifth inning by scoring on a Trojan error and ground out.

Helena’s best chance to tie or take the lead came an inning later as the Huskies had runners at second and third with one out but they were left stranded as a strike out and fly out ended the inning.

In the final inning, Heacock hit a two out single but was left stranded as Hazel Green pitcher Hunter McGriff struck out Landon Peoples looking for the final out of the game.

Despite the tough second inning, Fitts went on to record 13 strikeouts on 101 pitches.

Helena and Hazel Green will meet again for game two of the series on Friday, May 18, at 4 p.m. at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery.