Florala closes season in round two at second-ranked Billingsley

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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In a top-five matchup, Florala dropped two games at Billingsley in a second-round 1A state playoff doubleheader Friday, April 28.

The second-ranked Bears pushed their season record to 20-3 with the sweep and advanced to the third round, while the fourth-ranked Wildcats ended the year at 14-4.

Game 1
Mason Truesdale earned two strikeouts and retired the side in order on 12 pitches in the top of the first. Shane Shirah and Kyle Bolce led off the home half with back-to-back singles. Both runners moved into scoring position with no outs. Dalton Jackson then struck out Landon Jones and Nathan Gilmore and kept the game scoreless with a flyout. Seth Bundy and Wyatt Brooks walked in the visiting second before Truesdale ended the threat with a strikeout. Jason Smith opened the bottom of the frame with a walk, but a double play capped the inning.

Jaden Seago began the third with an infield single but was forced out when John Howell hit into a fielder’s choice. Jackson delivered a two-out RBI double and scored Howell as FHS took a 1-0 lead. Gilmore laced a two-run double for a 2-1 lead after three innings. Brooks and Jacob Lara reached on consecutive walks in the top of the fourth but were unable to advance following two straight strikeouts. BHS erupted for 14 runs in the last of the inning. Shirah walked with the bases loaded as Boice and Jones each had a two-run single for a 7-1 lead. Two errors with two outs led to nine unearned runs and a 16-1 lead after four innings.

Howell and Jackson notched singles in the visiting fifth and put runners at first and second with one out. Truesdale notched two strikeouts and ended the first contest.

Jackson went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Seago was 1-for-2, and Howell finished 1-for-3 with a run scored. Jackson allowed nine runs (five earned) on five hits with five strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

Game 2
After the game began with back-to-back groundouts, Jones walked but was picked off and ended the top of the first. Jackson knocked a two-out triple in the bottom of the frame as Bundy gave the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead with an RBI single. Boice closed the inning with a strikeout before the Bears scored three runs in the second.

Hudson Manning drew a bases-loaded walk and tied the score at 1-1 before Marshall Headley hit a two-run single that plated Jason Smith and Turner Motley. Howell kept the score 3-1 with a strikeout and flyout. Boice had a 1-2-3 bottom of the second with a pair of strikeouts. Following a scoreless third, Smith stroked a two-out single in the top of the fourth, but that was all Billingsley could muster. Jackson cut Florala’s deficit to 3-2 with a towering home run in the home half of the frame. Bundy reached on an error before Lara walked. Boice preserved the one-run cushion with a strikeout and groundout and sent the game to the fifth.

Howell worked around two walks in a scoreless fifth and delivered a one-out single in the bottom half. The inning came to a close with a double play until three insurance runs came home in the sixth and pushed the lead to 6-2. Brooks took a two-out walk in the home half before a strikeout ended the inning. Smith scored on a sacrifice fly from Headley in the seventh for the final 7-2 tally. Dawson Reeves had a single in the home portion before a groundout closed out the contest.

Jackson finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Reeves was 1-for-1, while Bundy had a 1-for-3 showing and one RBI. Howell allowed three runs on three hits and struck out four in five innings. Judd Goolsby allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and struck out two in two innings of relief.