Southside sweeps Scottsboro in 5A first-round series


Southside’s Matt West hits a bunt single against Scottsboro on Friday during the Class 5A playoff series in Southside. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times)


 

SOUTHSIDE — Class 5A, No. 4 Southside’s quest for a state championship got off to a strong start Friday with a series sweep of Scottsboro in the opening round of the high school baseball state playoffs.

The Panthers shut out the Wildcats 7-0 before winning the nightcap 12-0 in five innings.

Southside (32-7) defeated the Wildcats (21-16) in the first round for the second year in a row.

All aspects came together for the Panthers during the best-of-three series.

On the day, Southside pitchers gave up just two hits to Scottsboro. At the plate, the Panthers piled up 23 hits in the two games. Defensively, Southside did not commit an error in either outing.

“You always want to peak at the right moment,” Southside coach Blake Bone said. “When we have everybody going in the right direction at the same time, I think we’re on the path to do good things.”

Drew Mullinax and Brock Love, the starters in games 1 and 2, respectively, were sterling on the mound. Mullinax gave up just one hit while fanning five and walking only one in six innings. Love also yielded just one hit while striking out six in four innings of work. He walked none.

“Both of our starters did a heck of a job today and the guys out of the pen threw the ball well,” Bone said. “They threw strikes, mixed their pitches well and when you can do that, you have a chance to win every time. That’s what we expected of them and they had a great performance.”


The lone hit allowed by Mullinax was an infield single by Collin Warren in the third inning.

Southside led just 1-0 in the third inning when its bats finally began to make noise. Matt West led off the bottom of the third with a double. Two batters later, courtesy runner Alex West scored on an RBI single by Braxton Light. A fielder’s choice got Light to second base, and Hunter Clough brought him home with a single to push the lead to 3-0.

A double by Kyle Steward and a single by Saige Benson led to the removal of Scottsboro starter Justin Lynch. Reliever Tyler Lusk didn’t fare much better, however. He hit Matt West to load the bases, then two batters later Light walked to bring in Steward and make it 4-0. After Benson was forced out at home, a wild pitch plated Matt West to extend the Southside edge to 5-0.

The Panthers added a run on an RBI bunt single in the sixth by Matt West and got another one on an RBI double by Clough in the seventh. Clough then relieved Mullinax on the mound and struck out two in retiring the side and giving Southside the victory.

“We hit the ball hard today,” Bone said. “We had some timely hits. The guys took good approaches at the plate all day today. They competed in the box and that’s all you can ask for.”

After not scoring in the first inning of the second game, the Panthers made up for it in the next few innings. They got two-RBI singles from Blake Devine and Clough in the second to take a 4-0 lead.

Tanner Snow plated Love with a sacrifice fly in the third to make it 5-0.

Southside blew open the game in the fourth inning. Clough drove in a pair of runs with a double, then scored on the same play after a throwing error to give the Panthers an 8-0 cushion. 

Love got Clough home with an RBI double, making it 9-0. A fielder’s choice scored Love to balloon the lead to 10-0. Devine finished the scoring in the inning with an RBI triple to give Southside an 11-run margin. Warren, who started on the mound for the Wildcats, then was relieved by Jake Slaten, but the damage already had been done.

Snow was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth to account for Southside’s final run.

Light got Scottsboro out in order to complete the game.

The Panthers will host the winner of the Etowah at Arab series Friday in the second round. The Blue Devils and Knights split their two games and will take the field for the deciding game at 1 p.m. Saturday.