Helena claims area championship with sweep of Chilton County

Published 8:02 pm Monday, April 15, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

The Helena Huskies will head into the Class 6A baseball playoffs with a perfect area record and a championship in tow as they finished off a 4-0 area record with a sweep of the Chilton County Tigers.

Helena started the series with an 11-5 win on Monday, April 8 at Chilton County High School to clinch the title before closing out the series at Helena High School on Friday, April 12 with a 7-0 victory.

In the first game, the Huskies got into a two-out hole in the top of the first inning, but a pair of errors gave them a 3-0 lead shortly after. Hayden Berry followed that with an RBI double to increase the lead to 4-0 after an inning of play.

A Ty Stricklin single followed by an error put a pair of runners on for Helena to start the top of the second, and both runners scored shortly after that thanks to an RBI ground out by Reece Mims and an RBI single by Nicholas Peters.

However, Chilton County started cutting into that 6-0 lead in the bottom of the third.

A lack of control on the mound in the inning led to the bases loading up off a walk and two hit batsmen to start the frame. A run then scored off a wild pitch, and after another walk, two more Tigers were hit by pitches with the bases loaded to make the score 6-3.

Chilton County then got another run off an RBI single, but after coming in the game midway through the inning, Trey Lampman earned a pair of strikeouts to get out of the inning with a 6-4 lead.

Helena recovered in the top of the fourth with a solid piece of two-out hitting as Davis Kelley turned a Braydon Kendrick double into a run with an RBI single.

The Tigers scored once again in the bottom of the fourth off a sacrifice fly, but that would be their last run of the game.

The Huskies hit another two-out RBI single in the top of the fifth, this time off the bat of Jarret Scott to extend the lead to 8-5.

Then, with two outs in the top of the sixth, John Martin Williamson and Berry both drew walks to put a pair of runners on for Caleb Higgins. Higgins cleared the bases with a triple, and Helena followed that up with a run off a wild pitch to close out the 11-5 win.

Lampman secured the win with five relief innings, earning five strikeouts while allowing just one run and four hits and not giving up a walk.

In the second game of the series four days later on Friday, Helena started off the bottom of the first inning with a one-out Kendrick RBI sacrifice fly followed by a Williamson double to open up a 2-0 lead.

That lead held until the bottom of the fifth when the Huskies recovered from getting out on the first two at-bats of the inning by drawing a walk and getting a single off Kelley’s bat.

Stricklin then extended the lead to three with an RBI single, and Scott made the lead five on the next pitch with an RBI double.

After a one-two-three top of the sixth, a Williamson single and Brett Cannon walk put a pair of runners on with one out for Helena.

While the next batter struck out, the Huskies caught a couple of breaks off wild pitches and took advantage to score on both and finish off the 7-0 win.

The Helena pitching staff helped its offense secure the win with a combined shutout. Brayden Dockery earned the win with five shutout innings, taking five strikeouts against three hits and four walks.

Bennett Plowden earned two strikeouts in a perfect inning of relief and Austin Acosta closed out the show with three strikeouts in the seventh inning while allowing just one walk.

After closing out its 20-12 regular season with an area title, Helena will host Baldwin County in their first round series of the Class 6A baseball playoffs. Games one and two will be on Friday, April 19 at 4:30 and 7 p.m., respectively, with game three to be played on Saturday, April 20 at noon if needed.