Fast start leads Oak Mountain to win against Briarwood

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

NORTH SHELBY – With the state champion Oak Mountain basketball team in attendance to be honored during the first pitch, the Eagles’ baseball team stepped up to recognize them with a win on Tuesday, March 9, in a rivalry battle with 280-area foe Briarwood.

The Eagles scored a combined four runs in the first two innings to grab the early lead and never looked back as three pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts in a 5-2 victory.

Oak Mountain started the scoring in the bottom of the first after Davis Gillespie picked up a one-out walk. That was followed by back-to-back doubles from Andrew Hunt and Maddox Macrory. The Macrory double brought home two runs to give the Eagles an early 2-0 lead.

An inning later, Taylor Bush picked up a one-out walk, then, after a line out, the Eagles put together a two-out rally. It started with a dropped third strike on a wild pitch that allowed Mitchell Pierce to reach base safely to put runners on first and second.

After a wild pitch allowed both baserunners to move into scoring position, Gillespie stepped up with a two-RBI single to drive home both and make it 4-0 through two innings.

Briarwood’s comeback attempt started in the top of the third, but the Lions missed a big opportunity.

They loaded the bases with one out after a walk to Spencer Nichols and back-to-back singles from Cam Ray and Cal Higdon. Following a strikeout, Tyler Waugh earned a bases-loaded walk to bring home Briarwood’s first run of the game, but another strikeout after that left the bases loaded with two runners stranded in scoring position.

After a quick 1-2-3 inning defensively, Briarwood came right back to the plate looking for more success in the top of the fourth. An error allowed leadoff man Eli Steadman to reach base safely. That was followed by a ground out before another error on a ground ball from Pierce Covin allowed Steadman to score and cut the deficit to 4-2.

But Oak Mountain’s Stephen Moraski got out of the inning with back-to-back strikeouts to keep the Eagles in front.

The Eagles then answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the fourth when Mitchell Pierce grounded to shortstop. An error on the grounder allowed courtesy runner Cole Gangle to score for an insurance run.

Briarwood loaded the bases again in the fifth inning but once again stranded all three baserunners.

Oak Mountain’s Gillespie then struck out the side in the sixth, as Briarwood never could overcome the three-run deficit.

The Lions left a total of eight runners on base in the loss, while the Eagles stranded five.

Oak Mountain was led by Gillespie, who went 1-for-2 with two RBIs, one walk and one run scored. Macrory also had one hit and two RBIs, while Hunt, Jake Derecki and Bush each added a hit.

Briarwood was led by Higdon and Ray with one hit apiece, while Waugh earned two walks and had an RBI.

On the mound, Moraski went 4 1/3 innings allowing two hits and two runs, while he walked five and struck out six. Luke Smith struck out one in 2/3 innings pitched, while Gillespie finished off the final two innings by allowing no hits and no runs. He struck out five of the six batters he faced.

Briarwood’s Andrew Kellen got the start and pitched five innings, allowing four hits and five runs with five strikeouts.