Shelby County rallies to sweep Rehobeth in first round

Published 9:33 pm Friday, April 19, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

COLUMBIANA – With the city of Columbiana lining the bleachers at Shelby County High School to cheer them on, the Shelby County Wildcats kicked off the postseason with their first round series against the Rehobeth Rebels on Friday, April 19.

Shelby County used that to power its offense late in game one and early in game two to secure the 5-3 game one win and 14-1 game two win to sweep the series and advance to the second round.

However, the Wildcats faced some early adversity in the form of a 3-0 deficit in game one, but they battled their way back in the ball game with a big run in the bottom of the fifth.

After a pair of lead-off singles from Sam Carter and Colby Matherson, Gannon Pharr got Shelby County on the board in an emphatic way with a three-run home run to tie up the game at 3-3.

Two batters later, a runner reached off an error, and after Micah Morris hit into a sacrifice bunt to advance Presley Duke to second, Nathan Owen gave the Wildcats the 4-3 lead with an RBI double.

Cale Blevins followed that up with an RBI single to punctuate the comeback as Shelby County went on to win game one 5-3.

The Wildcats used that massive swing of momentum to race ahead to a commanding lead in game two.

Carter walked to kick off the top of the first for Shelby County, and after Matherson singled, an error allowed Carter to score and Matherson to reach third.

Pharr followed that up with an RBI single to double the advantage.

Rehobeth got the first out of the game on the next batter, but an error followed by a Morris single loaded up the bases for Owen.

The pitcher came up clutch in the big spot and plated a pair of runs with an RBI single to increase the lead to 4-0.

The hits kept coming for the Wildcats as a Cale Blevins single set up another single from Ben Gann, with this one scoring two runs and taking the lead to six.

Once the Rebels made a pitching change, Carter picked up another run off a sacrifice fly to keep the scoring coming, and after a Matherson RBI double and a Pharr RBI single, the Wildcats had a nine-run first inning.

After the offensive onslaught of the opening frame, Shelby County went the next two innings without scoring, but it also kept Rehobeth off the scoreboard during that time to maintain the lead.

Pharr was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and two batters later, he advanced to second off a balk call and Davis Ruston brought him home off an RBI single to make the lead 10-0.

While that was the number the Wildcats needed to set up a run-rule win the next inning, the Rebels had other plans and hit a one-out double to get on the scoreboard for the first time in game two.

However, Shelby County rallied in the top of the fifth to finish the job.

Gann and Carter started the inning with back-to-back singles, and Matherson was then hit by a pitch to load up the bases. Pharr came up to the plate and ripped a single to center field to score Gann and Carter, restoring the double-digit lead in the process.

While the next batter struck out after a pitching change, the Wildcats tacked on another pair of runs to finish off the game. Ruston hit a ball to left field and an error allowed him to reach second and the pinch runner Christian Reed to score.

Morris then hit a tricky ball right in front of the plate that forced the Rehobeth pitcher to decide where to throw. Fortunately for Shelby County, he chose the ground out at first and Pharr came home to make the score 14-1 going into the bottom half of the inning.

Matherson then came in to relieve Owen on the mound, and after the Wildcats surrendered a lead-off single, they got the next three batters out.

Once the final batter grounded out to Pennington at first, the Wildcats came out to congratulate their teammates on the 14-1 win and the sweep.

Owen earned the game two win by striking out four batters in four innings, allowing just one run, three hits and a walk.

That was after a complete-game win for Morris in game one as he went seven innings without allowing an earned run. He worked his way around three unearned runs and four hits to not surrender a walk and claim four strikeouts.

Pharr went a combined 5-for-5 across the doubleheader with six RBI and four runs thanks to a 2-for-2 game one and 3-for-3 game two.

Owen and Gann each finished game two with a pair of RBI as Gann went 2-for-3 with two runs and Owen went 1-for-4. Matherson and Morris also ended game two with multi-hit days.

With the victory, Shelby County will advance to the second round to face either Demopolis or Mobile Christian.