Pippa Passes, KY: Coach Scott Cornetts ALC Eagles hosted the Johnson University Royals in NCCAA Mideast Regional baseball action on Tuesday May 11th, with a berth to the NCCAA National World Series on the line. The Eagles played well in both games of the double-elimination event to earn the title of regional champions. They will now advance to the NCCAA Baseball World Series, scheduled to be held on May 21-25 in Easley, South Carolina at the J.B. “Red” Owens Sports Complex.
Game 1: Alice Lloyd-6; JU-2
Each squad knew the ramifications of the opening match, and the pitching by both hurlers was exceptional. Neither team could get a hit, and the contest entered the top of the fifth with both marksmen throwing no-hitters.
Finally, in the top of inning five, JU broke through. A walk and wild pitch placed a runner on second with two outs. The next Royal batter then laced a double (the first hit of the game) to left field to break the ice (0-1).
After ALC went down once more in their next effort, Johnson U added an insurance run in the sixth, courtesy of a single and double (0-2).
With JU in complete command, the Eagles bats finally woke up in a major way in the bottom of the inning.
In the Alice Lloyd half of the sixth, sophomore Kason Hofsess (RF) opened things with a single, the club’s first hit of the day. Then, the Caney Creek fans were really given a reason to celebrate. The next batter, sophomore Thomas Mullins (SS) unloaded on a fastball and drove it over the center-field fence. Suddenly, the score read 2-2, and the home fans went wild. Fortunately, the team wasn’t finished yet.
First, sophomore Cannon Ferrell (CF) walked and quickly stole second. Next, senior Dalton Cornett (C) drew another walk. The two then pulled off a double-steal.
Now, with two runners in scoring position, senior Alex White (1B) drew a one-out walk to load the bases, and senior Logan Gibbs (LF) smacked a single to left to score 2 runs (4-2). Finally, sophomore Will Gladson (3B) drove a shot that dropped in the center to plate 2 more (6-2) before the inning finally ended.
Now, with their fortunes reversed, ALC relief pitcher Peyton Branham promptly retired the Royals in order to end the exciting contest.
At the plate, Hofsess would finish 2-3 while Mullins, Gibbs, and Gladson all had 2RBI’s.
On the mound, Pippa Passes pitcher Chase Conley (P) went 5.1 innings, allowing only 5 hits and 2 runs while striking out 3. Branham earned the win in relief and was in total command, as he allowed 0 hits with 2 strikeouts, in 1.2 innings.
The Eagles outhit the Royals 6-5 and committed the only error of the game.
Game 2: Alice Lloyd-13; JU-6
The hosts were determined to end the event in straight games as Mullins and Ferrell led off things on the right foot with consecutive doubles to score one (1-0). Later, a fielder’s choice would plate the second run (2-0).
However, Johnson was out to produce a different outcome in this matchup, and they struck back in the second with 2 hits and 2 runs (2-2). Fortunately, ALC would answer.
In the third, two singles would place two runners on base. Later, with two outs, sophomore Anthony Jarvis (DH) proved the man of the hour as he would smash a 3-run homer to center field (5-2).
JU would respond in their next at-bat as they used two singles and an error to score two (5-4), but fortunately, in the top of the fourth, the Caney Creek boys would get some separation.
In the fourth, a huge double from Hofsess would lead to a 3-run inning (8-4), then the hosts would hold the score until the sixth.
In that inning, things would begin to look rosy as Alice Lloyd used doubles from Cornett and Jarvis, combined with 2 singles, to produce 4 crucial runs (12-4). One inning later, the squad would add a final insurance run (13-4).
Down to their last hope, the Royals battled furiously, scoring 2 runs on 3 hits. However, they needed much more, as the game ended on a pop-fly to Cornett, playing second base this game.
At the plate, Mullins went 3-4 while Jarvis and Hofsess both finished 2-4. Jarvis had a monster game with 6 RBI’s.
Freshman Dawson Beckett took to the mound for the Caney Creek club, earning the victory. In 2.1 innings, he allowed 6 hits and 4 runs. Classmate Peyton Brown came on in relief and pitched well. In 4.2 innings, he allowed only 3 hits and 2 runs. Each whiffed 3 batters.
The victors outhit JU 13-9 and both squads committed 1 error.
The Eagles now will sit and wait to see who they will face next week in the nationals.