Published 12:05 am Tuesday, April 22, 2014

0422 spt-Quinton Maddox celebs

Andalusia’s Quinton Maddox celebrates after his team’s 5-2 game-three victory over Clarke County Monday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Andy wins series clincher 5-2, advances to 2nd round

A big smile spread across Andalusia senior pitcher Quinton Maddox’s face when center fielder Hunter Earnest squeezed his glove over the last out Monday night.

Looking like he was delivering WWE superstar Daniel Bryan’s “YES!” chant, Maddox pumped his fists in the air and started celebrating his team’s 5-2, game-three victory over Clarke County in the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 4A state playoffs.

Maddox, who goes by “Q” on the field, allowed two earned runs on eight hits and struck out five in the complete game for the win.

When asked about his performance on the mound, the senior Bulldog gave credit where it was due.

“We had a team effort,” Maddox said. “Every at bat, every pitch, every play; our team worked together. What can I say? They gave 110 percent — each one of them.”

With this victory, Andalusia (20-10) advances to play UMS-Wright in Mobile in the second round, which starts on Friday.

Throughout the entire game, AHS and CCHS battled in a classic deciding contest down the stretch.

“It’s game three for you,” AHS baseball coach Tyler Dent said. “They’ve got a heck of a ball team. That ain’t no 9-16 ball team coming in here. (CCHS) Coach (Keith) Kelley does a heck of a job.”

Many times during the under two-hour game, Maddox would find himself behind in the count.

That didn’t matter to him because he was confident in the defense behind him.

“You go up there and you miss a spot, and your defense is going to make a miraculous play behind you,” Maddox said. “There’s no other feeling like it.”

Dent said he got a good feeling before the game when he talked with his senior pitcher.

“It all started with Quinton Maddox,” he said. “I knew Quinton was a Bulldog. He didn’t have a short leash. I was going to give him every opportunity to finish the game, and he did.

“He did a great job — threw strikes and let his defense work for him. We had one error, and that’s something we take pride in.”

Andalusia completed an inning-ending double play in the first; got the top three batters out with two CCHS players on base in the third; made a successful throw out at second in the fifth; and made the last two outs in order in the seventh.

Dent said the defense was the difference in the game.

“We did some good things at the plate,” the coach said. “I thought we swung the bat a lot better than we did in game two. We were a lot more disciplined. Hats off to Quinton. Hats off to the whole team, and our coaching staff.”

AHS scored two runs in the first inning when Brayden Burkhardt came in on an error. Maddox later was batted in by Daniel Henderson after tagging on a pop fly.

Clarke County cut the game to one in the fourth when Zach Armistead hit an RBI double.

Andalusia answered in the bottom-half of the same farm with an RBI triple from Ross Graham, and an RBI single from Brandon Smith for a 4-1 lead.

CCHS’s Dax Dozier hit an RBI single to end the scoring for the visiting Bulldogs in the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth, AHS tacked on an insurance run when Henderson scored on a squeeze play from third. Henderson reached on one of Clarke County’s five errors on the night.

Smith went 2-for-4 with an RBI; Burkhardt went 0-for-3 with a run; Maddox went 1-for-4 with a run; Henderson went 0-for-3 with an RBI; Earnest went 1-for-3 with a run; and Graham went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run to lead AHS.

To set up the third game of the best of three series, Andalusia split with CCHS on Saturday.

The hometown Bulldogs won the first game 5-1, and then fell 8-2 in the second.

Andalusia’s Justin Scherzinger threw a three-hitter and struck out two in seven innings for the win.

Grayson Campbell went 1-for-3 with a double and a run to lead AHS in game one.

In game two, Maddox went 2-for-4 with a double.

Graham pitched 5.1 innings and struck out three.

For Maddox, it’s been four years of waiting to see if Andalusia breaks the first-round curse.

“We’re happy,” he said. “We’re going to go on to UMS-Wright. It’s a great match up. It’s one of the best match ups you’ll see in 4A baseball.

“You’ve got (good) coaches on both sides, and it’s going to be a coaches duel,” he said. “Position by position, we match up perfectly.”