Wildcats advance to third round with convincing sweep at Millry

Published 2:45 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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Florala ran its winning streak to 19 straight games and dispatched Millry, 13-4 and 5-0, in the second round of the 1A state baseball playoffs on Friday, April 26.

The third-ranked Wildcats moved to 22-1 with the doubleheader sweep in head coach Tyler Zessin’s return to the dugout. Fifth-ranked Millry finished the season at 26-7.

Game 1: Florala 13, Millry 4
Dalton Jackson led off the game with a single and advanced to third when Cody Walsh reached on an error. Jackson and C. Walsh scored on another miscue for a 2-0 lead. Noah Bryan followed with a single as Easton Walsh crossed the plate on a wild pitch. After Bryan scored, Jacob Lara made it home on the fourth mistake. Jackson hit an RBI single and drove in Preston Truman. Lawson Whigham was hit by a pitch, but C. Walsh battled back and struck out two and left the score 6-0 after one inning.

Hisun Marlowe set down Florala in order on 11 pitches in the visiting second. C. Walsh needed only 10 pitches as Millry went 1-2-3 in its half of the frame.

C. Walsh ripped a clutch two-out, two-run double in the top of the third. Ayden Brooks and Truman scored as the visiting Wildcats upped their lead to 8-0. Courtesy runner Greyson West was tagged out at the plate. Caden Welford was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and brought Hendry home with the host Wildcats’ first run. C. Walsh then induced a pop-up and struck out Marlowe looking to preserve an 8-1 lead.

Florala could not solve Marlowe in the top of the fourth and went quickly on just four pitches before Millry rallied with two outs. Whigham had an RBI double as Eli Adams and Wesley Mcilwain cut the deficit to 8-3 after four innings.

Kaden Cantrell earned a two-out single in the visiting fifth but was unable to advance. Joseph Warrick hit a solo home run in the home half and closed the gap to 8-4 with five innings complete.

Florala responded with three runs in the top of the sixth. Bryan lifted a sacrifice fly to right and drove home Jackson. C. Walsh scored on a wild pitch, and Brooks lashed an RBI single that brought E. Walsh to the plate. Mcilwain doubled in the bottom of the frame, but two crucial outs at the plate kept the score 11-4 at the end of six innings.

Rayshon Coleman took first on Millry’s sixth error in the seventh as Jackson smashed a two-run blast to left for a 13-4 cushion. Florala put runners at second and third with one out but could not add to its lead. Caden Welford led off the bottom of the inning with a single before Marlowe flew into a game-ending double play.

Jackson finished 4-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs in the win. Bryan was 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI. C. Walsh gave up four runs (one earned) on five hits with seven strikeouts in the complete-game win.

Game 2: Florala 5, Millry 0
E. Walsh struck out two and retired Millry in order in the opening inning on 14 pitches. Jackson started the bottom half with a single and moved to third on a double by C. Walsh. Following a walk to E. Walsh, Lara gave Florala a 2-0 lead with a two-run double. Truman hit an RBI single and brought E. Walsh to the plate for a 3-0 margin at the end of one.

Marlowe earned a one-out single in the second before Jackson Waite reached on an error. E. Walsh was not fazed and held the host Wildcats scoreless with a strikeout and pop-up. Jackson jolted a two-out rally in the bottom half with a single before back-to-back RBI hits by the Walsh brothers propelled the visiting Wildcats to a 5-0 lead. Bryan and Lara were each hit by a pitch and loaded the bases before Waite induced a groundout.

Mcilwain earned a leadoff walk in the third, but E. Walsh struck out two and stranded him at first. Coleman was hit by another pitch with two outs, and Jackson walked as C. Walsh was called out due to batter interference.

Millry put two runners aboard in the fourth, but E. Walsh thwarted the scoring threat with a strikeout of Hendry. Waite struck out two in his half as Florala maintained its 5-0 lead after four innings.

Whigham took a one-out walk and moved to third when Shooter Holyfield hit a single to left. E. Walsh caught Welford looking at strike three and ended another scoring opportunity. Waite used 10 pitches for a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth.

E. Walsh did not allow a home Wildcat to reach base in the top of the sixth. The visiting Wildcats loaded the bases on two walks and an error but could not add to their 5-0 lead.

Jackson took over on the mound with one out in the seventh and recorded the final two outs as Mcilwain was stranded at third.

Jackson went 2-for-2 with two runs at the plate, and C. Walsh was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. E. Walsh, Lara, and Truman all finished 1-for-3. E. Walsh notched the win with 11 strikeouts and allowed only three hits in 6 1/3 innings of work.

Florala will host Brantley (18-5) in the quarterfinals on Thursday, May 2, with first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m.