Calera picks up wins over Grove City, Sweet Water at Gulf Coast Classic

Published 10:49 am Monday, April 1, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

The Calera Eagles bolstered their top-10 resume with a 2-2 record at the Gulf Coast Classic, picking up wins over Ohio’s Grove City Greyhounds and the Sweet Water Bulldogs.

Calera started the tournament well with a home run in the second inning against Grove City. Faced with one out, David Gutierrez launched a solo shot to left field on the first pitch he saw to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

From there, it continued to be a pitcher’s duel as William Harrison remained in complete control on the mound. He recovered from one-out single in the top of the fifth to strike out the next two batters he faced.

Harrison then struck out the side on just 10 pitches in the top of the sixth, and the Eagles capitalized on the momentum he generated in the bottom of the frame by doubling their lead.

After a leadoff single by Mac Graham, Dalton Ash hit a sacrifice bunt to advance him to second base. Harrison then came up big at the plate with an RBI single to score Graham from second and increase the lead to 2-0.

The Greyhounds hit a leadoff double followed by an RBI single to make the score 2-1, but Harrison struck out the next batter and a double play on the next batter ended the game and gave Calera the win.

Harrison finished the complete game with 12 strikeouts, allowing just one run and three hits without walking a batter.

While the Eagles ended up on the other side of a 2-1 score line in their second game of the day against Richmond-Burton, they bounced back two days later against Sweet Water.

The first two innings came and went without a run, but after Calera got out of a two-on, two-out situation in the top of the third, they broke the deadlock in the bottom of the inning.

After a one-out double put a Graham on second, Zach Sharpton hit an RBI single two batters later to bring him home and give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

Sharpton advanced to second off a balk, and he scored off an error on the next pitch by the Bulldogs center fielder, increasing the lead to 2-0.

However, Sweet Water also found its form at the plate in the top of the fourth and tied up the game at 2-2 thanks to a one-out RBI double and a two-out RBI single.

The Eagles responded in their next turn at the plate with back-to-back one out singles by Josh Rhoads and Chase Herring.

Two batters later, Graham hit an RBI single to give Calera the lead once again, this time for good.

The fifth inning came and went without a baserunner from either team, but the Eagles struck once again in the bottom of the sixth.

After falling in a two-out hole to start the inning, a Joshua Rhoads single followed by an error kept the inning alive, and another error on the next pitch brought Rhoads home to make the lead 4-2.

That was the first of three straight scoring plays as Ash scored a pair of runs with an RBI double and Sharpton hit an RBI single to finish off the 7-2 win.

Another key to Calera pulling away for the win was Conner Mosley’s performance out of the bullpen. He pitched 3.1 shutout innings of relief while striking out five batters and only allowing one hit.

While the Eagles lost 7-0 to the defending 2A state champion Ariton, they will have another chance to bounce back in their area series against Helena, which starts Tuesday, April 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Helena before wrapping up on Thursday, April 4 at Calera beginning at 6:30 p.m.