Hokes Bluff takes best-of-3 series against Jacksonville


Matthew Watkins awaits a ball on a pickoff attempt as Jacksonville’s William Clingan slides back to first base during the opening game Friday. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times)


HOKES BLUFF — Hokes Bluff’s Seth Pollard knew the team needed his best effort and the Eagles got it at Estes-Wright Field on Friday.

Pollard stepped up after a 14-0, six-inning loss to Class 4A, No. 9 Jacksonville in Area 11 high school baseball made the prospect of playing in the postseason look dim.

He tossed a complete-game shutout in the nightcap that gave the Eagles a 3-0 victory to win the area series and keep their playoff chances afloat.

Pollard struck out nine batters while scattering four hits in shutting out an offense that looked nearly unstoppable in the first game.

“I knew that if we didn’t win it would put us out of the playoffs, so I wanted to do my best,” he said.

Hokes Bluff coach Mike Robertson said the Eagles must sweep Cherokee County, and the Golden Eagles must lose two straight games to Alexandria for Hokes Bluff to make the playoffs.

“We showed something,” Robertson said. “I’m really proud of them. They showed courage. They didn’t drop their heads (after the first game).”

The Eagles won the first game of the series 4-3 Tuesday at Jacksonville.

In game two, Hokes Bluff (14-5, 2-3) got on the board first in the bottom of the third inning. Chase Beggs singled to lead off and reached second when the throw in from the outfield was wild. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases with no outs. Chance Ford was hit by Jacksonville starter Bruce Murphy to plate Beggs for a 1-0 lead. Tanner Shields followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Eagles added a sacrifice fly by Dylan McKee to push the lead to 3-0.

Pollard allowed runners in scoring position in both the sixth and seventh innings but emerged unscathed. He struck out the side in the sixth and fanned a pair in the seventh and induced a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to end the game.

“Seth did his job,” Robertson said. “He threw strikes. He threw 85 percent fastballs, but his ball moves so well. He got two or three big strikeouts with his curveball.”

Pollard put together such a strong performance despite not having his best stuff.

He didn’t think going into the game that he’d pitch so well.

“Not at all,” Pollard said. “I just wanted to give 110 percent and hope for the best.”

Beggs led Hokes Bluff with two hits in the game.

The first game was a different story for Hokes Bluff. The Golden Eagles (16-7, 3-2) got two runs in the first off of Nick Gaghen. They put up three more in the third, including a two-run homer by Tanner Sims that made it 5-0.

Gaghen came out in the fourth after yielding another run. His replacement, Beggs, didn’t fare much better. He walked in a run and gave up an RBI single to Jared Tippets, giving Jacksonville an 8-0 lead.

The Golden Eagles put up five more runs in the top of the sixth.

Beggs had the lone hit for the Eagles, an infield single in the first inning. Payton Sims had three hits and two RBI for Jacksonville.

“We didn’t hit,” Robertson said. “We did all we could though and got the win in the second one.”