OXFORD AND FAIRHOPE TO BATTLE FOR CLASS 6A CHAMPIONSHIP
May 14, 2012By Jimmy White of Prattville High School
OXFORD RALLY TO DEFEAT SPAIN PARK IN SEMI-FINALS, TWO GAMES TO ONE
FAIRHOPE BLOW RED DEVILS AWAY IN DOUBLE-HEADER ROUT, TWO GAMES TO NONE
The finals of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s baseball playoffs will be played the weekend of May 16-19 in Montgomery. The Montgomery Biscuits’ home ball park, Riverwalk Stadium, will the scene of the finals of the six classifications.
Class 6A finals will begin play with the first game Friday afternoon May 18 at Paterson Field with a 7 p.m. start. It will feature the Oxford Yellow Jackets against the Fairhope Pirates. Class 5A’s first game will begin the play at Paterson Field at 4 p.m. as Southside High School of Gadsden takes on Spanish Fort.
Only ten miles separate Spanish Fort and Fairhope. They certainly play good high school baseball in Baldwin County.
The games then will switch to the Montgomery Biscuits’ home field; Riverwalk Stadium ,for the finals Saturday May 19. The class 5A game will begin at 10 a.m. with the third game if necessary to follow immediately.
At 4 p.m. Class 6A’s second game will be played and the third if necessary will follow.
Fans of the Prattville Lions were hoping that the Central Red Devils would make it to Montgomery. The Devils took out the Lions in the second round, but couldn’t get by a very talented Fairhope Pirates team in Baldwin County.
In the North portion of the state the Pelham Panthers was ranked number one for majority of the season and climbed as high as number seven in the USA Today polls. However the Panthers were defeated in the quarterfinal rounds by Spain Park.
The Jaguars have a strong Autauga County connection in their coaching staff. Will Smith is the head coach, and David Spencer is an assistant coach. Both are natives of Autauga County having finished high school at Billingsley High School.
Smith was an outstanding athlete in three sports, earning first team All-State in football, basketball and baseball. He attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a baseball scholarship. At UAB Smith was All-Conference USA, his junior and senior seasons. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox and played four seasons in the Red Sox minor leagues, reaching High AA.
Before he gave up his pursue of a big league career, Smith was called up to the big club and contributed with a base hit during one of his call ups.
David Spencer is in his eighth year at Spain Park. He also coached at Prattville High school for four years. Spencer is Smith’s assistant baseball coach and is the head football coach of the Jaguars’ freshman football team. He is a graduate of Auburn University.
In the semifinal rounds of class 6A Central High traveled to Fairhope and was run very readily by the Fairhope Pirates. After watching the Red Devils pitching staff completely dominate Prattville it was hard to believe that Fairhope won two quickly, one by the ten run mercy rule, and almost ending the second game by the mercy rule as well.
In the opener, Fairhope jumped out front in the bottom of the second inning when Jerrod Hathcock hit a 2-run home run. Chas Domino added a 3-run shot in the 4th. Hathcock went 4-for 8- with 2 home runs and 8 RBIs in the two games. Domino went 5-for-7 with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs.
Toby Thomas (14-0) pitched the first game and faced only 19 hitters, striking out 11 and giving up two hits. Jamal Howard hit a solo home run for the only Devil run. Jordan Brown took the loss going only two and 2/3rd innings, giving up the two round trippers. Recall Brown was the losing pitcher in the battle with Austin Crook in Phenix City during the Lions elimination in the second round of play.
In the nightcap Matt Evenson (recall he breezed thru the Lions in the second game) took the loss. The Pirates had built a 10-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth, before the Red Devils scored three runs to avoid the 10-run mercy rule. Cody Hughes and Evenson had RBI hits in the inning for the Red Devils.
Ethan Hunt (11-0) picked up the win for the Pirates.
Meanwhile in Birmingham Spain Park was sitting pretty in the quarterfinal matchup with Oxford. The Jaguars scored a dramatic come from behind 3-2 win in the opener, scoring the winning run in their final at bat. The Jaguars held a 4-0 lead in the nightcap as Colt Freeman carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
But the wheels fell off for Spain Park as the Yellow Jackets rallied to win the second game and forced a deciding third game Saturday Morning (May 12).
With Spain Park’s Colt Freeman (a University of Alabama signee) carrying a no hitter into the sixth inning it looked as if the Jags would knock off Oxford. Freeman had racked up 12 strikeouts and had been ahead in the count throughout the five innings.
He walked Jackson Stephens to start the sixth inning. There is an old clinch’ in baseball that if you walk the leadoff batter, he’ll come back to haunt you. He did. Before the inning was over the Jackets had knotted the game at 4-all. In the bottom of the seventh inning Zach Lovvorn led off with a double. He was sacrificed to third base, and then scored on an error forcing a third game.
Saturday morning the Jags couldn’t get it together and gave up three unearned runs in the first inning. Spain Park’s Mikey White did his part in the inning with a ground ball that should have been a double play, but was booted as the Jackets took a 3-0 lead and never looked back.
Oxford’s starter Zachary Lovvorn (A Samford Univeristy signee) started the game and pitched a solid three innings. Frazier Taylor finished off the Jaguars with the final four innings, striking out five and giving up one hit.
It should be a terrific finale for the 2012 class 6A finals Saturday at Riverwalk Stadium. No doubt that Prattville pitching coach Joseph Colvin will be a specator. He's a graduate of Oxford High and follows the fortunes of the Yellow Jackets closely.