CULLMAN - A patient Cullman baseball team fought off an early four-run deficit to Sparkman, routing the Senators 14-4 Monday night at Bill Shelton Field.
A seven-run sixth inning on seven hits, including Owen Lovell's second home run of the season, got the call over by the 10-run rule. Cullman avenged a 4-0 loss to Sparkman on Feb. 23 and has won six in a row.
Cullman mixed its offense by taking advantage of control problems from three Sparkman pitchers. The Bearcats teed off the fourth Sparkman hurler, left hander Josiah John, ripping him for five consecutive hits, as Cullman was not going to be slowed down with a chance to close out the Senators while at the plate.
Bearcat starter Will Morrison was shaky early. He gave up three runs in the first on four hits and a run in the second on two more hits; that plus two errors had the Bearcats looking at a 4-0 deficit with plenty of concern.
The Bearcats got him a run in the second when Wheeler Eastman's ground ball was thrown away by the second baseman, allowing Jacob Heatherly to score. Heatherly began the inning with a walk.
Morrison got into a rhythm, allowing Sparkman one hit and only two base runners from the third through the fifth innings. Cade Williams replaced Morrison in the sixth and retired the side, with two coming by strikeouts.
A five-run third inning sent the Bearcats into the lead to stay. A walk to Lovell with the bases loaded forced in Grayson Taylor, who drew a walk with one out.
After Heatherly was called out on strikes, Eastman cracked a two-run single that scored Noah Fondren and Levi Thomas to tie the game at 4-4.
Carter Bowen singled with Lovell racing home for the go-ahead run. The next run came via the Sparkman left fielder losing the ball in the lights off a pop fly by Caleb Lipsey. That allowed Cullman to take a 6-4 advantage into the fourth inning, overcoming a dreadful start on the mound and at the plate.
Trent Price got a run-scoring single in the fifth to extend the Cullman lead to 7-4.
The Bearcats' final inning began with Thomas drawing a walk, followed by Lovell belting a pitch over the left field fence that upped the score to 9-4.
Heatherly singled and Eastman walked with a fielder's choice by Bowen, sending a pinch runner to third.
Pinch hitter Carson Freeman slapped a single that made the score 10-4 with Bowen coming in seconds later on a stolen base at third and a throwing error when the ball sailed into left field.
Taylor and Fondren singled to get the bases loaded for pinch hitter Ben Smith to double into left center as Price and Taylor dashed home to end the contest by the run rule.
The Bearcats accounted for nine hits and eight runs in their final two innings, after they managed just a run on one hit through the second.
Fondren, Eastman and Price tagged out two hits each with Eastman, Lovell and Lipsey sharing RBI honors with two each.
Freeman and Smith displayed clutch pinch hitting when needed, combining for two hits, one double and three runs batted it.
The Bearcats now have a 7-2 record and will go to the Lake Point Showdown this weekend with games scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Coach Brent Patterson, who got his 300th career win on Saturday in Hoover against James Clemens, will have the Bearcats back at Bill Shelton Field Mar. 18 against arch rival Hartselle at 2 p.m.
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