No. 4 Southside sweeps No. 8 Etowah


Southside's Hunter Clough tries to turn a double play as Etowah's Caleb Ledbetter slides into second during a high school baseball game Friday. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times)


ATTALLA — Anyone doubting the power of momentum in baseball need only look at Friday’s high school doubleheader between Class 5A, No. 4 Southside and No. 8 Etowah.

Trailing in the top of the sixth inning, the Panthers reeled off five runs to take the lead for good in a 5-3 win, then romped over the Blue Devils 12-0 in the nightcap.

The Area 13 matchup, originally scheduled for March 23 but delayed due to rain, capped the series between the teams that began with a 5-4 Etowah win at Southside on March 21.

“Anytime you come back like that and show resiliency as a club, it gives you some energy going into the next game,” Southside coach Blake Bone said. “Then we came out and put up two in the first (inning of the second game), I think that allowed us to keep the momentum for the rest of the night.”

The Panthers (16-7) benefitted from a pair of Blue Devil errors in the sixth inning of the first game to go on top, then were the beneficiaries of six errors, two passed balls, one wild pitch and one balk in the second game.

“I think both teams made some mistakes that were taken advantage of,” Bone said. “We were able to capitalize on some mistakes and it made a difference in the game.”

The first game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fifth. Chris Steele started things for Etowah (14-9) by reaching on an error. Zac Pruitt was hit by a pitch and Paul Ruiz walked to load the bases. Patrick Lister replaced Jesse Fry on the mound for Southside, but he hit Tanner Putman to bring home a run for the Blue Devils. Kyle Underwood then plated Pruitt with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. Lister managed to escape with no more damage.

The Panthers responded almost immediately. Hunter Clough led off the sixth with a double to left center field. Blake Devine singled to put runners on first and third. Cody Pylant brought Clough home with a groundout, and a throwing error by first baseman Colby Dunn scored Devine to tie the game at 2.

Underwood struck out Brock Love, but the Panthers weren’t done just yet. Andrew Fuhrman bunted for a single, Braxton Light reached on an error (which spurred a pitching change for the Blue Devils from Underwood to Nick Humphrey) and Landon Cunningham’s single brought home two runs to make it 4-2 Southside. After Cunningham stole second, Drew Mullinax capped the Southside scoring with a single that pushed the lead to 5-2.

The Blue Devils scored one run against new pitcher Alex Pondick in the top of the sixth. Dunn doubled before a single from Braxton Wood. Steele grounded into a double play that scored Dunn.

Etowah got runners on first and third with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Pondick struck out the last three batters to secure the win.

Fuhrman had two hits and one walk for Southside. Ruiz collected two hits for the Blue Devils. Lister got the win, while Underwood was tagged with the loss.

Game two was rarely in doubt. Pylant blasted a two-RBI double in the first inning for the Panthers, and the floodgates opened from there.

A balk by Dunn in the fourth put Southside up 3-0. Conner Paulson followed two batters later with a suicide squeeze to score Love and make it 4-0.

A wild pitch in the fifth made it 5-0 Panthers. Matt West and Paulson then hit back-to-back RBI singles to extend it to 7-0 and knock Dunn out of the contest.

Two more runs crossed in the sixth on an error.

J.T. Cross was hit by a pitch in the seventh to score another run. Clough followed with a two-RBI single, and Devine finished things off with an RBI-triple.

“Anytime you can get wins in the area and against a crosstown rival, it’s a good feeling,” Bone said. “We played a good club, and I’m proud of the guys and the way they played. Today, (the pitchers) really took it to another level, kept us in the games when we weren’t swinging the bats. They did a heck of a job.”

Pondick got the win in the nightcap, going five innings while yielding two hits and one walk while fanning five. Fuhrman went the last two innings, giving up one hit while striking out four. Pylant and Clough led the Panthers with three hits each.

Josh Bobo had two of Etowah’s three hits in the nightcap.