Montevallo clinches playoff berth in offensive explosion against West Blocton

Published 1:23 pm Friday, April 5, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

The Montevallo Bulldogs were firing on all cylinders on offense in their area series against the West Blocton Tigers, outlasting the Tigers for a 13-7 win at home on Wednesday, April 3 before erupting for a 24-11 victory in West Blocton on Thursday, April 4.

The series sweep clinched a playoff berth for the Bulldogs as they are guaranteed one of the top two spots in the area after a 4-0 start.

The Tigers got the better of the two teams to start the series opener as they scored on a fly out to take a 1-0 lead.

However, Montevallo responded in a big way in the bottom half of the frame.

After a lead-off single by Ethan Juarez, Braden Douglas hit an RBI single to tie up the game. Keiston Ross kept the momentum going with a single, and after a Charlie Adams RBI double and a run scored off an error during Nylan Hill-Goode’s at-bat, the Bulldogs took a 3-1 lead.

A walk loaded up the bases once again with no outs, but after a pop out led to no runs being scored, Montevallo scored off an error, ground out and a passed ball to end the inning with a 7-1 lead.

West Blocton clawed back into the game over the next three innings. The Tigers scored a pair of runs in the top of the second with an RBI groundout and an error, one run off a fly out in the top of the third and another off an RBI double in the top of the fifth to cut the score to 7-5.

Zachary Shores stole home for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the fourth to restore the three-run lead, but a passed ball put the Tigers down by just two again in the top of the fifth.

Montevallo loaded up the bases in the bottom of the fifth with Hill-Goode and Tyre’onte Sullens singles and a hit batter, and a ground out hit by Howell put the Bulldogs up 9-6. After a walk on the ensuing at-bat, Juarez hit an RBI single for his team’s 10th run of the game.

West Blocton got back within three with an RBI double in the top of the sixth, but a pair of hit batters put Montevallo back in business in the bottom of the frame.

The Bulldogs scored on the next three plays off a Sullens RBI single, Evan Stone RBI groundout and a Howell RBI single to pull away and finish off the 13-7 win.

Sullens finished the game 2-for-2 with a walk, three runs and an RBI and Howell had four RBI in a 1-for-4 day.

That set the table for an even bigger win on the road the next day in West Blocton.

Juarez hit a lead-off triple on the third pitch of the game and came home on a fly out on the next at-bat in the top of the first. After another pair of base-runners reached, Hill-Goode then extended that lead to 2-0 with an RBI single.

The Tigers tied up the game at 2-2 in the bottom half of the first off a pair of one-out RBI singles to put the pressure back on the Bulldogs.

While West Blocton got the first two batters of the second out in three pitches, Douglas hit an RBI single to put his team up 3-2.

In the bottom of the second, the Tigers took advantage of a pair of runners with one out to score both of them and take a 4-3 lead.

However, Montevallo raced ahead to a season-high in runs with seven runs in the next three innings.

After West Blocton gave the Bulldogs three base-runners off a pair of walks and a hit by pitch, Montevallo scored on each of the next seven plays.

A Howell RBI single, bases-loaded walk, Zachary Shores RBI ground out, Juarez RBI single, Douglas RBI groundout, Ross RBI double and Adams RBI single put the Bulldogs up 10-4 before a pitching change led to the end of the inning.

The Tigers scored four runs in the bottom of the third to make the score 10-8, but Montevallo continued to race ahead.

With runners on second and third, Juarez hit an RBI single and an error scored two more runs to make the lead 13-8.

An intentional walk and an error loaded up the bases, but the Bulldogs scored on three straight plays as Hill-Goode plated two runs off an RBI double, Sullens hit an RBI single and a fielder’s choice sent another run home and increased the lead to 17-8.

A single and a steal of home gave West Blocton another pair of runs and made the score 17-10. However, Montevallo finally put away the Tigers in the fifth inning.

A Shores lead-off double led to the first run of the inning thanks to an error on the ensuing at-bat. The Bulldogs scored another run off a groundout on the ensuing at-bat.

Ross reached off a single, but West Blocton got the second out of the inning to nearly escape the fifth inning. Hill-Goode made sure that didn’t happen with an RBI double to increase the lead to 20-10 and put the Bulldogs in run-rule territory.

After the Tigers hit the next batter, Montevallo scored on the next four plays thanks to a Howell RBI single, a passed ball, a Shores RBI single and a Juarez RBI double, which put it up by 14.

West Blocton hit a one-out RBI single in the bottom of the inning to cut the score to 24-11, but it couldn’t score the runs needed to avoid the run rule and the Bulldogs earned the win to sweep the series.

Juarez finished the game 5-for-6 with five runs and four RBI and Douglas had a team-high six RBI off a 1-for-6 afternoon. Hill-Goode was perfect at the plate with a 3-for-3 day with a walk, four RBIs and three runs.

Ross finished 3-for-4 with a walk, four runs and an RBI. Howell and Shores each went 3-for-5 as Howell had three RBI and three runs and Shores had two RBI and two runs.

All nine starters had at least one RBI on the day and seven of the nine crossed home plate and scored a run.

Montevallo will finish out area play with a series against Oak Grove on Tuesday, April 9 and Thursday, April 11. Both teams are undefeated in area play and the series will decide the area championship.