Briarwood wins two mercy-rule games in round 1

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – A hot stretch continued for the Briarwood baseball team on Saturday, April 20, as the Lions pulled off a doubleheader sweep against the Munford Lions in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs in front of a home crowd.

The Lions used 18 combined hits between the two games to pick up wins of 11-1 and 14-0, both of which ended short of a full seven innings because of the 10-run mercy rule ending each game in the fifth inning.

With the two victories, Briarwood has now won 12 of its last 14 games and will advance to the second round of the postseason where No. 8 ranked UMS-Wright awaits.

A recap from each first-round win is below.

Game 1: Briarwood 11, Munford 1

In game one of the series, the Lions scored in every inning they stepped to the plate to post their 11 runs, while Carson McKinney picked up a complete-game win on the mound limiting Munford’s success in an 11-1 victory.

Briarwood started the damage in the bottom half of the first inning behind just one hit from Parker Hutson. He hit a one-out single in the second at bat of the inning, while four walks and two errors led to the majority of the five runs scored by the Lions in the frame.

The second inning started off just as promising when Hutson led off with a single. That was followed by a walk from Wesley Helms to put two runners aboard for McKinney.

The starting pitcher helped his own cause and striped a double to left field to drive in Hutson and keep two runners in scoring position.

A sac fly from Sam Hamner then drove in Helms for the final run of the inning and a 7-0 advantage.

Munford then put together its only answer of the game in the top of the third with two singles, but only one run crossed the plate as the Lions exited the inning still down 7-1.

Briarwood had an answer of its own as well to help extend the lead. Tyler Waugh and Bryce Perrien led off the top of the fourth with a single and walk, respectively. Two batters later, Helms stepped up for his team with a two-RBI double to left field that put the Lions on top 9-1.

Later in the inning, Hamner also helped the cause with an RBI double of his own that extended the lead by another run to 10-1 heading to the fourth.

In the bottom half of the fourth, Helms closed out a strong game with an RBI single that closed out the scoring in Briarwood’s 11-1 win to open the postseason.

Helms went 2-for-2 with three RBIs and three runs scored, while Hamner went 1-for-1 with three RBIs and one run scored. Blake McKenna added two RBIs, while McKinney went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored as well.

McKinney allowed four hits and one run while striking out two on the mound in the shortened five-inning game. 

Game 2: Briarwood 14, Munford 0

In the second game of the series, Briarwood scored three runs in the first two innings and then 11 combined in the third and fourth innings to pull away for a dominant 14-0 shutout to complete the sweep.

Aside from the 14 runs on 10 hits, Briarwood got another complete game on the mound from Noah Whatley. He pitched all five innings and allowed just two hits while striking out two.

The Lions struck early offensively thanks to a sac fly from Hamner in the first inning to jump out to a 1-0 lead, and it only got better from there.

In the top of the second, Eli Steadman and Christian Ferguson led off the inning with back-to-back walks. That was then followed by back-to-back singles from Waugh and Perrien, the second of which drove in two runs to put Briarwood up 3-0 through two innings.

Then the real damage started in the top of the third.

A single and a walk from Hamner and McKinney kick-started the inning. Eventually both runners ended up in scoring position on a passed ball, which set Steadman up for a big hit. On the fifth pitch of the at bat, he drove a double to left field that brought home both baserunners for a 5-0 lead.

Two batters later, Waugh singled on a ground ball up the middle to bring Steadman home and extend the lead. Briarwood then added one more run when Helms hit a ground ball that ended in an error and allowed Waugh to cross the plate for an 8-0 advantage.

That led into the fourth inning, which became Briarwood’s best of the game.

The Lions got singles from Ferguson, Perrien and Helms to bring in a combined three runs, while they also earned two walks, had a batter hit and took advantage of errors to eventually put six more runs on the board for a 14-0 lead, which became the final score.

Hamner, Helms and Perrien all picked up two hits and two RBIs in the game, while Steadman added one hit and two RBIs. Waugh wen t2-for-2 with one RBI, one walk and two runs scored. Ferguson also added a hit and a walk while scoring two runs.