Vincent advances to Class 2A semifinals with third consecutive series sweep

Published 10:29 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HUNTSVILLE – Walking off the field following a quarterfinal loss to eventual Class 2A state champion Long to end the 2022 baseball season, the Vincent Yellow Jackets were heartbroken.

A moment that stung coming into the 2023 season, it served as motivation, and now, a year after that heartbreaking loss, the sting became a little less painful, as the Yellow Jackets picked up a third consecutive playoff sweep on May 3 to advance to the Class 2A semifinals.

The Jackets outlasted Whitesburg Christian in game one of the quarterfinal series in a 2-1 pitchers’ duel, before then paving a dominant path to the semifinals in the second game with an 11-1 win.

In the opening game, it was all about the pitching showdown between Vincent’s Aiden Poe and Whitesburg’s Luke Holbrook.

The two starting aces went pitch for pitch throughout the game, leading to complete games for each, but an early blemish for Holbrook ultimately made the difference in the final score.

Although limited in opportunities at the plate, Vincent found some two-out success in the top of the second inning.

With the bases loaded and two down in the inning, Casen Fields took the first pitch he saw and drove it to left field to score two runs and give the Yellow Jackets a 2-0 lead.

More importantly, it gave Poe some breathing room on the mound, and he capitalized.

Poe was flawless for six innings, putting him one inning away from a complete-game shutout.

In the bottom of the seventh, however, with Whitesburg down to its final chance, two singles, one of which was an RBI single from Holbrook, trimmed Vincent’s lead to one run.

With one out and a runner still on base, Poe settled in from there, finishing off his impressive outing with a groundout and pop out to lead Vincent to a 2-1 victory in game one.

He struck out eight and needed just 66 pitches to get through the complete game, while he allowed one run on four hits and no walks.

At the plate, Fields had the key two RBIs on his lone hit, while Camden Cobb, Ethan McElrath and Aidan Gaseway each added one hit.

Building off of that win, Vincent now had two chances to win one game, but the Yellow Jackets had no interest in coming back the next day for a game three.

Instead, the Yellow Jackets became determined to put away the series with a sweep late in game two.

Whitesburg actually took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Vincent evened the score quickly in the bottom half with a run as well, and the Jackets never trailed again.

The second inning came and went with no runs crossing the plate, but Vincent took the lead for good in the bottom of the third with a two-run inning.

Following a scoreless fourth, the Yellow Jackets stepped on the gas and pulled away with three runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth to not only end the game, but end it an inning early with the 10-run rule behind an 11-1 victory.

This time around, a 3-for-3 performance from Zac Carlisle was key, as he added a walk to reach base safely each time he stepped to the plate, ultimately scoring a run each time as well.

Poe finished with two doubles, two RBIs and a walk, while Easton Fields led the team with four RBIs on two hits. Grayson Gulde finished with multiple RBIs as well, totaling two on one hit, while Casen Fields added one hit and an RBI. Cobb finished the game with one RBI on two walks.

Gulde got the start on the mound and went 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits and four walks with five strikeouts. Carlisle got the final two outs, both via strikeout to emphatically punch Vincent’s ticket to the semifinals.

After winning three straight series via sweep on the road, Vincent will now host No. 7 Lindsay Lane Christian in the Class 2A semifinals next week for a spot in the state championship series.