GOOD HOPE - Good hitting and strong pitching on a cool Friday night carried the Fairview Aggies past the West Point Warriors 9-1 in the Cullman County High School Baseball championship at Good Hope High School.
With Preston Moore and Clay Lanier combining for eight hits and five runs batted in, the offense stood out, getting control of the game by the middle of the fourth inning.
Offense was not only the highlight for the Aggies on the day. Fairview shut out Hanceville 7-0 in the semifinal round and had West Point under wraps with the Warriors getting just two hits through the first five innings and unable to do anything effectively against Fairview right hander Derek Jones.
The Aggies' pitching staff threw 17 and a third innings of scoreless tournament ball before West Point pushed a run across in the sixth to avoid a shutout.
Fairview gained a 1-0 lead in the top of the first of the championship when Lane Schnittker tripled and came home on a single by Moore.
The momentum was locked in for the Aggies in the third with a four-run inning as a Moore double scored Schnittker, a single from Truman Boyd brought in Moore and a two-run single by Logan Murphree gave the Aggies a 5-0 lead.
Moore drove in his third run of the title bout in the fourth on a single and Lanier produced two runs on a base hit that broke the game open for the Aggies, extending the margin to 8-0.
Jones retired six in a row between the first and third innings and struck out the side in the fourth. He ran into trouble in the fifth when the Warriors were credited with a catcher's interference call that sent Cameron Bates to first, which was followed by Levi Allred getting hit by a pitch, and the Warriors had two runners on with one out.
Jones got two ground balls that ended in force outs to get out the jam and go to the fifth with an eight-run cushion.
The only run Jones surrendered was a single by Sam Briehn that scored Chance Martin, who led off the sixth with a walk.
Jones struck out Bates to end the inning.
A touching moment for the Aggies came in the last of the seventh. Coach Brandon Tidmore put Ragan Ashley in to catch one batter. Ashley hurt his right arm earlier in the week and could not throw. He took one pitch from Jones for his official championship game appearance, with Riley Carroll going back to the catcher's position on the next play.
Jones was relieved by Matthew Holmes who struck out Noah Allison and finished the two-hour, 12-minute game when Rylan Jones grounded to first.
The Aggies produced 14 hits in the game, having 11 in the scorebook by the middle of the fourth. They allowed four hits with Jones and Holmes combining for eight strikeouts.
Dave Doss took the loss for the Warriors, working three innings while Matt McDonald pitched three in relief and Levi Allred was called in to work the seventh.
In the 7-0 win against Hanceville, Fairview took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third when the Aggies capitalized on two Hanceville errors at shortstop.
They produced five insurance runs in the sixth with Moore collecting an RBI on a double, Boyd driving in two with a single and Garrett Dunn delivering a run-scoring single.
Tyler Ball was sharp for the Aggies on the mound, allowing the Bulldogs four hits with a game-high nine strikeouts.
Moore was 4-of-4 in the semifinal with Ball and Boyd getting two hits.
West Point started the afternoon by a 5-0 shutout of Good Hope. Aubry Cleghorn kept Good Hope off stride by throwing a complete game four-hitter, striking out six.
He received great assistance from his infield as they turned three double plays to end possible Good Hope scoring opportunities.
Kolton Easterwood had a run-scoring single in the first, Matt McDonald cracked a two-run triple in the fourth and Jones grounded out to first, bringing in Allison with the fifth and final run in the fifth inning.
Fairview is now 8-3 on the season with West Point 3-4. The Aggies avenged a loss to the Warriors in the 2016 county championship at Fairview.
The Tribune All-Performance county tournament team:
(Selected based on their performance in the 2017 county tournament.)
Brenan Hurst - Hanceville, Aubry Cleghorn - West Point, Zach Isbell - Good Hope, Tyler Ball - Fairview, Derek Jones - Fairview
Preston Moore - Fairview, Clay Lanier - Fairview, Matt McDonald - West Point, Malachi Holt - Good Hope, Matt Hancock - Good Hope, Hunter Persall - West Point
Warren Creel - Good Hope, Gavin Cruce - Hanceville, Noah Allison - West Point
Dayne Black - Fairview, Devon Gowens - Good Hope
Most outstanding player:
Preston Moore - Fairview- 10-of- 13, .769 average, 6 runs batted in, 7 runs scored, 4 doubles, 1 triple.
Moore hit safely in eight consecutive plate appearances.
Copyright 2017 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.