Shelby County opens area play with win over Central Clay

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

COLUMBIANA – The Shelby County Wildcats were able to open area play with a win against Central Clay County on Tuesday, March 21 thanks to a four-inning stretch at the plate that featured a combined nine runs.

The Wildcats scored five runs in the third inning, which was their biggest of the game, but they steadily added one, two and one over the next three innings to make the difference in a 9-5 victory.

Shelby County was able to take a 6-0 lead in the game, as the Cougars struggled to find offensive success through the first four innings of action.

In the bottom of the third, the Wildcats capitalized with a big offensive inning to gain control of the game. Three hit batters and one walk led to one run crossing the plate before a second out was recorded.

That’s when a two-our rally was sparked. Up 1-0, another bases-loaded walk and hit batter led to two more runs crossing the plate.

Then, Jace Bolan picked up the lone hit of the inning with a two-RBI single that brought home Colby Matherson and Cooper Pennington for a 5-0 advantage.

An inning later, Shelby County capitalized on two more walks with another clutch two-out hit, this time from Pennington, who singled to second to drive home Ethan Hall for a 6-0 lead.

To that point, it looked like the Wildcats were going to coast to victory, but they needed every one of those six runs as Central Clay responded with a five-run top of the fifth.

That cut the Shelby County lead to one run, but the Wildcats went on to add two more runs in the fifth on an RBI single from Noah Reed and a sacrifice bunt RBI from Micah Morris to make it 8-5.

Then, in the bottom of the sixth, an error from Central Clay led to Blake Jennings scoring the final run in the 9-5 victory.

Shelby County was led by Carter Sheehan with two hits in the area win, while Bolan finished with two RBIs on one hit. Beyond those two, Reed, Morris and Pennington all had one hit and one RBI apiece, while Logan Starnes finished with one hit.

On the mound, Morris went five innings and allowed three earned runs on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts, while Grant Robinson and Matherson finished off the final two innings with shutout efforts.