Oak Mountain downs Briarwood for 5th straight win

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum met on Tuesday, March 12, as the Oak Mountain Eagles traveled a couple miles down Alabama Highway 119 to take on county foe Briarwood.

The Eagles came into the game having won four games in a row after a 2-1 loss to Spain Park, while the Lions were looking to pick up their first win of the season after six consecutive losses to open 2019.

Unfortunately for the Lions, they ran up against one of the state’s best pitchers in Jackson Kimbrell, and despite a strong effort, they fell 4-1 to lose their fourth game of the season by three runs or less.

Showing how dominant Kimbrell has been on the mound this season, his complete-game effort featuring a jaw-dropping 16 strikeouts still wasn’t his best outing of the season. He allowed just three hits and one earned run while walking one batter, but striking out 16 of the 29 batters he faced was remarkable and gave the offense a sense of freedom.

Despite his effort, the game was still tightly contested and Briarwood was never fully out of it.

In the first inning, the two teams started blow-for-blow with Oak Mountain taking the lead on a ground out from Hansen McCown to put the Eagles on top 1-0. It kept the Eagles from wasting a walk from Kimbrell and single from Caleb Ragland to lead off the inning.

Briarwood, however, was quick with an answer thanks to the first two batters in the bottom half also reaching base due to a single form Bryce Perrien and a walk from Wesley Helms. Two batters later with one out in the inning, Sam Hamner laced an RBI-single to right field to drive in Perrien and tie the game 1-1 through the first inning.

The Eagles continued the scoring into the second inning thanks in large part to a one-out double from Hunter Hall. After a strikeout put two outs on the board, Luke Percer stepped to the plate and drove in another run with an RBI-single to give Oak Mountain a 2-1 advantage.

From that point forward, the Lions didn’t have an answer.

After a quiet third inning, Oak Mountain gave Kimbrell all of the cushion he needed.

A double from Ragland and a triple from Hall led off the inning, as Hall’s triple drove in Ragland for a 3-1 advantage. While the Eagles didn’t pick up another hit in the inning, Hall eventually scored on a ground out from Percer to put them on top 4-1.

Briarwood put a few more base runners on the rest of the way, but only two reached scoring position, and Kimbrell quickly got out of the jam each time to close out the win.

Ragland led the Eagles at the plate with a 3-for-3 game and one run scored. Hall went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while Percer went 1-for-3 with a game-high two RBIs. Turner Hughes added the only other RBI.

Briarwood was led by Hamner who went 1-for-3 with one RBI, while Perrien and Carson McKinney added the other two hits.

Noah Whatley actually did a good job of quieting down Oak Mountain’s offense by picking up five strikeouts and allowing just three earned runs and four overall runs in the loss.