Florala edges Straughn by one in regular season finale

Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Lightning struck twice on the same day when Florala used a second consecutive rally and posted a 5-4 win against Straughn on Monday, April 15.

The Wildcats ran their winning streak to 15 games and upped their record to 18-1, while the Tigers fell to 12-12.

Eli Guilford lashed a one-out single in the opening inning, but Dalton Jackson recorded two straight flyouts. Easton Walsh reached on an error and kept the bottom half alive as Mack McIntyre ended the frame with a strikeout.

McIntyre doubled in the visiting second and took third on an errant throw. Eli Grissett took first on a defensive miscue as McIntyre raced home and gave Straughn a 1-0 lead. Florala was unable to solve McIntyre and went quietly in its half.

Saxby Radford reached on another error in the top of the third before back-to-back singles from Guilford and Matt Ashberry loaded the bases. Layne Grantham cashed in Radford with an RBI single and pushed the margin to 2-0. McIntyre retired the side in order and needed only nine pitches for another 1-2-3 inning.

Grissett was hit by a pitch in the fourth and replaced by pinch runner Hayden Brannon. Jackson followed with a strikeout but walked Grayson Bush. Radford then hit a single and loaded the bases with one out. Jackson earned a crucial strikeout, but a wild pitch scored Brannon and took the Tigers to a 3-0 lead. The Wildcats began their half of the frame with two walks and also reached on an error. After a key strikeout, Jacob Laura, Preston Truman, and Kaden Cantrell coaxed free passes and tied the score at 3-3. Rayshon Coleman then grounded out to second but drove in Laura for a 4-3 lead after four innings.

Cody Walsh struck out the side in the fifth and reached on a defensive miscue in the home half. C. Walsh took second on a passed ball and moved to third on a groundout. Brooks knocked an RBI single and plated C. Walsh for a 5-3 lead at the end of five innings.

Straughn put runners at second and third with one out in the visiting sixth. C. Walsh nearly escaped, but Kaden Wiggins scored and cut the score to 5-4. Ashberry earned two quick outs before Coleman kept the inning alive courtesy of another defensive mistake. Jackson and C. Walsh were both intentionally walked, but Florala could not add to its slim lead.

Taylor Sikes grabbed a one-out single in the top of the seventh, and Grantham followed with a walk. C. Walsh held serve and struck out the last two batters for the victory.

Brooks finished 1-for-3 at the plate with an RBI for the Wildcats. C. Walsh earned the win in relief with 3 2/3 innings of work and allowed one unearned run on three hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts. Jackson gave up three runs (one earned) on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

Guilford paced the Tigers with a 2-for-4 day. Bush went 1-for-2 as Ashberry, Grantham, and Wiggins all finished 1-for-3. Radford, Sikes, and McIntyre were 1-for-4 apiece. McIntyre gave up four runs (two earned) and tallied four walks with five strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. Ashberry threw the final 2 2/3 innings and allowed one unearned run on one hit with four walks and a strikeout.

With the regular season done, both teams turn their attention to the first round of the AHSAA state playoffs.

Florala welcomes Calhoun on Thursday, April 18, and Straughn travels to Thomasville on Friday, April 19. Each team will play a third game the following day if necessary.