The real season beginsPublished 10:16am Tuesday, March 18, 2014
‘Cats at 12-6 as area opener vs. Valley up next
From this point on, games will take on greater significance for the Benjamin Russell Wildcats.
At 12-6, the Wildcats have started the season well, earning votes in the polls and avoiding consecutive losses all year.
After a 2-2 weekend, BRHS will look to get off on the right foot at last season’s area runner-up, Valley High School.
“The real season begins (Tuesday). Last year, we had a slow start, and we couldn’t overcome it,” said BRHS baseball coach Richy Brooks. “These next few games are going to be big games for us as far as determining our fate. We want to go to the playoffs, but you can’t do anything until you get in, so it’s important that we go out there and be ready to play.”
BRHS split with Class 5A No. 8 Etowah and defeated Fort Payne before being shutout by Mountain Brook.
Recaps of those games are below:
BRHS 1, Etowah 2 (game one; Friday, March 14)
Sean Rape had Etowah befuddled in the batter’s box during his five innings of work, but a missed chance by BRHS’ offense and one bad inning by Zac Rogers resulted in a 2-1 loss for the Wildcats.
“We had bases loaded with no outs after scoring a run,” Brooks said. “But we didn’t score again. We sat on our lead until the bottom of the sixth, and (Etowah) scored two runs. We should’ve won both games. But we didn’t drive in guys when we had them on and could have broken the game open.”
Rape allowed one hit and struck out four in his outing.
Rogers, who took the loss, accounted for the Wildcats’ lone RBI.
BRHS 4, Etowah 3 (game two; Friday, March 14)
Unlike in game one, the Wildcats held off a late charge by Etowah to claim a victory in game two of the teams’ double-header.
Neither team gained much traction at the plate, as pitching and weather conditions made hitting a challenge.
“It was a tough day hitting-wise. With the wind blowing as it was, you had to hit line drives or ground balls. If it went in the air, you were getting out,” Brooks said. “But we were able to pull away in the second game and get out with the win. The way I look at the games is that we could’ve lost both of them, but we should have won both of them. Bryant (Horn) and Austin (Moncus) threw really well for us.”
Horn got the win, going four innings and striking out three.
Seth Hendon was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
BRHS 8, Ft. Payne 3 (Saturday, March 15)
An efficient day by Caleb Brooks and hot hitting from Hendon fueled the Wildcats to a win over Fort Payne.
Brooks threw the team’s first complete game of the season, needing only 70 pitches to do so.
Fort Payne was ahead 3-0 entering the fourth inning until the bats woke up for BRHS.
“All of those runs were unearned, but we got some big hits,” Brooks said. “Seth had a big double for us, and he was hot all weekend. Caleb got a home run for us as well.”
BRHS scored seven runs over the course of the final two innings to seal the deal.
Hendon was 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs. He hit .500 (8-for-16) during the Wildcats’ past four games. C. Brooks was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
BRHS 0, Mountain Brook 6 (Saturday, March 15)
Old problems came back to haunt Benjamin Russell, as they were unable to come up with key hits when needed against Mountain Brook.
“We out-hit them 10-6,” Brooks said. “But we left 10 guys on base, and we never got the hits that put us over the top. The bottom line is, they got hits when guys were on, and we didn’t.”
Horn, Brooks and Rape each collected two hits.
“Overall, it was a good trip,” Brooks said of BRHS’ four-game road trip. “We should have been 3-1, and the only one I’m disappointed about was the first Etowah game, as I felt like we were in control of the game for much of it.”
BRHS faces Valley on the road Tuesday as the Wildcats open area play.
Following that, Benjamin Russell will host Valley in a double-header on Friday, starting at 4:30 p.m.