Shelby County sweeps No. 3 Rehobeth, advances to quarterfinals

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – JP Fox and Conner Aderholt were back at it on Friday, April 30, leading the Shelby County Wildcats in the second round of the playoffs against Rehobeth.

Following complete games from the two pitchers in an opening-round sweep of Elmore County a week earlier, the duo returned to the mound confident in the second round, which was needed in a best-of-three series against No. 3 Rehobeth.

Video by Bryan Pope

But once again, both starting pitchers were on their A game, and the Wildcats were even more fluid at the plate in a sweep of the third-ranked team in Class 5A to lift the No. 9 Wildcats into the quarterfinals of the postseason.

Fox got the start in the opening game of the series and got the help of 12 runs from the offense.

He went the distance, pitching all five innings and tossing a shutout that featured two strikeouts and only five hits allowed.

Shelby County got off to a strong start at the plate thanks to the first three batters reaching base safely. Riley Lewter was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the first before Matthew Pearson walked to put two aboard.

That paved the way for Fox at the plate to drive both home with a two-RBI double for a 2-0 lead. Noah Reed then scored later in the inning off a passed ball to give the Wildcats three in the first.

Shelby County added another run in the bottom of the second on an RBI single from JT Pennington and then one more in the third on a sac fly to make it 5-0.

The Wildcats then busted the game open in the bottom of the fourth with seven runs to put the game out of reach.

After Pearson was hit by to start the inning, Fox singled to put two aboard again. That was followed by a two-RBI double from Pennington to make it 7-0.

Aderholt then singled, which was followed by another double from Kaden Cardwell to add one more to the lead. Back-to-back walks brought home one more run before back-to-back singles from Jace Bolan and Noah Reed made it 11-0. The Wildcats tacked on one more on a double play that allowed the 12th run to cross the plate.

Fox then finished off the top of the fifth without allowing a run to complete a mercy-rule win in the opener.

Pennington finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBIs to lead the way for the Wildcats, while Fox added two hits and two RBIs. Bolan finished with one hit and two RBIs, while Lewter had one hit and one RBI. Pearson and Seth Hall both had one RBI on two walks.

The second game was a much tighter battle, but just like the game before, Shelby County’s pitching kept Rehobeth at bay.

This time, it was Aderholt on the mound, and he followed Fox’s shutout with one of his own.

Aderholt gave up just four hits and no runs in a complete-game shutout that featured five strikeouts.

After a quiet first three innings from both teams, the Wildcats gave Aderholt the lead he needed on the mound to put the game to rest when they scored three in the top of the fourth.

Pearson led off the inning with a walk and was followed by a double from Fox to put runners in scoring position with no outs.

Pennington then came through in the clutch once more with an RBI single, while Aderholt followed with an RBI single of his own to make it 2-0. The Wildcats made it four singles in a row when Cardwell and Austin Wilson hit two more with Wilson’s driving home the inning’s third run for a 3-0 advantage.

From there, Aderholt allowed just three more baserunners the rest of the way on the mound, as his presence kept Rehobeth from ever threatening the three-run lead.

Shelby County was led by two hits each from Aderholt and Cardwell, while Wilson, Fox and Pennington each had one hit. Pennington, Aderholt and Wilson each had one RBI in the win.

The Wildcats have now won 17 of their last 18 and are 24-8 overall on the season. They will take on either UMS-Wright or Pike Road in the quarterfinals.