Southside beats Etowah 6-1 in second round of playoffs


Southside’s Patrick Lister (5) celebrates with teammate Andrew Fuhrman after the Panthers defeated Etowah on Saturday to advance in the Class 5A playoffs. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times)


SOUTHSIDE — Patrick Lister performed like the veteran pitcher he is when Southside needed him Saturday.

With a trip to the Class 5A state high school baseball quarterfinal round on the line, the senior stepped on the mound and hurled five sterling innings in helping the No. 5 Panthers defeat and No. 7 Etowah 6-1 in the rubber game of the series Saturday.

The Blue Devils won the first game Friday night 4-3, before Southside (28-11) earned a 7-1 win in the nightcap of the series between the Etowah County and Area 13 rivals.

Saturday’s game didn’t see quite the dramatics of the day before.

Still, a full house, which included seating packed to the point fans were forced to stand beyond the outfield fence, saw Lister lead the Panthers deeper into the playoffs where a series with Pinson Valley awaits.

Lister’s level of play even surprised Southside coach Blake Bone.

“We knew he had the mentality to go out there and have a start like this,” Bone said. “He’s a competitor. He gave us a lot more than I expected. Our goal was to get a few innings out of him and get Andrew (Fuhrman) in the game. Patrick did a heck of a job for us.”

Lister allowed two hits, one walk and no runs while fanning five.

“It feels great,” Lister said. “The defense played great behind me. It is a huge rivalry, and it (the season) wasn’t going to end with me, especially not with Etowah.”

The Panther offense did its job in supporting Lister. Southside pounded 13 hits, while the Blue Devils had only four.

“We were able to get some good counts and get some guys on early,” Bone said. “We had some timely hitting; that was a big key. We bunted the ball exceptionally well.”

Etowah (28-11) used six different pitchers, but couldn’t cool the Panther bats.  

With Lister throwing the way he did, the two runs Southside picked up in the bottom of the first and second innings, respectively — an RBI single by Blake Devine and a suicide squeeze by Drew Mullinax — were all it would need.

“I felt confident from pitch one,” Lister said.

Fuhrman relieved Lister in the sixth inning. He gave up two hits, including an RBI single to Blane Payne for Etowah’s only run in the sixth. Fuhrman struck out the side in the seventh to end the game.

Southside built on its 2-run lead in the third when Cody Pylant singled with the bases loaded to bring in two more runs for a 4-0 cushion.

A fielder’s choice and an RBI single by Fuhrman accounted for the final two Southside runs, both in the fifth inning.

Bone was very complimentary of both teams after the hard-fought series.

“Etowah had a great plan and came in here and played a heck of a series,” Bone said. “I’m proud of our guys for the way they battled back after losing Game 1. You can lay down and tuck your tail, but our guys showed resiliency and did what it took to win the series.”

The loss ended the Blue Devils’ season.

“Southside has better ballplayers than us,” Etowah coach Larry Foster said. “We have to play probably a perfect game for us to stay on the field with them. I’m proud of our kids for competing and doing what they did. We’re getting better and I think it will be a good rivalry from here on.”

The Panthers will travel to the Indians on Friday. The first game is set to begin at 5 p.m. and is a rematch of last year’s quarterfinals. Southside swept the 2012 series on the road, winning 7-6 and 9-4.

“They have pretty good pitching,” Lister said. “I just hope we can do the same thing as last year.”