Bulldogs advance to semis
The best Class 4A baseball in south Alabama is played in Area 1. At least it appears that way with the Class 4A, Area 1 Champion Gulf Shores Dolphins and Class 4A, Area 1 Runner-Up Andalusia Bulldogs advancing to the semifinal of the state playoffs.
The Bulldogs (20-12) earned a 3-2 victory against the visiting Elmore County Panthers on Saturday to clinch a spot in the semifinal game.
The Dolphins (29-10) topped Trinity by a final score of 5-1 in a decisive third game to advance to the semifinal. The Dolphins will host the semifinal series.
Andalusia's win against the Panthers in the critical third game of the series came behind a strong pitching performance by lefty Daniel Wall.
The crafty southpaw pitched a complete game, allowing just two runs on six hits and one walk over seven innings. He struck out eight in the game.
Andalusia Head Coach Ben Ramer said he was impressed by Wall's performance in the loser-goes-home game.
"Daniel was never shaky all day long," Ramer said. "He had one walk and was around the plate all day.
"We couldn't have asked for a better thrown game," Ramer added. "What else could you ask him to do?"
Ramer said Wall was not the only Bulldog who stepped up and played well in the game.
"I'm so proud of them I can't describe it," Ramer said. "I didn't know what our approach would be (after the rain delays and a loss in game two of the series), but they came out here and did the job they had to do."
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when lead-off batter Neal Patterson ripped a double down the left field line. He scored when the next batter, Trevor Mathews, singled into right center field.
The score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the third inning when Patterson scored again.
Patterson once again started off the inning with a bang. He reached base on a single over short and moved to second when Mathews followed him with what was intended to be a sacrifice bunt.
The bunt, however, ended up putting runners on first and second with no outs when the Elmore County catcher slipped trying to field the ball.
Daniel Wall was the next batter for the Bulldogs and he too bunted. Wall, however, was called out when the ball hit the back of his foot as he attempted to run to first base. The runners were sent back to first and second.
The second out came when Mathews was picked off at first base. Mathews did not just give up when he was caught off base. Instead, the Bulldog runner got in a rundown which allowed Patterson to score from second base for a 2-0 lead.
Elmore County answered with one run in the top of the fourth when Wilton Johnson scored after reaching base on a double.
Andalusia added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning for a 3-1 lead.
Mathews scored after reaching base on an error. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Wilson and scored on an RBI-single by Cole Sightler.
Elmore County managed one run in the top of the sixth inning when Kyle Futral scored. The Panthers had a runner on first with two outs when Wall struck out Justin Robinson for the third out of the inning to end any possibility of a rally.
Andalusia went in order in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Panthers, however, did not manage to capitalize on the momentum shift in the top of the seventh, with Wall striking out three batters to end the game. Wall did give up a single in the inning, but recorded the last four outs of the game via strikeouts.