Prep Baseball State Championship Cullman romps Helena, 9-1, in game 1 of state championship series | CullmanSense

Prep Baseball State Championship

Cullman romps Helena, 9-1, in game 1 of state championship series

Johnny Thornton

MONTGOMERY - Jacob Heatherly's pitching was effective and Cullman's hitting consistent from the top to the middle, to the bottom of the batting order. Both things worked together once again as they have all postseason, resulting in a 9-1 Cullman romp of Helena in game one of the AHSAA 6A championship series Thursday night at Paterson Field.

Cullman scored early and kept Helena from being productive at the plate by Heatherly allowing only two hits in six and a third innings of work. 

The game encountered a 90-minute weather delay with Heatherly getting into a groove when he returned to the mound after 8:45 p.m. The lefty retired the side in the fifth, then got out of trouble following a walk to Brooks Brophy and a double to Nash Adams. Troy Cordrey popped to Trent Price at first, and a fly ball by Nick Ragsdale was caught by Owen Lovell in the center to end the sixth.

Price hit a ground ball deep to second that was mishandled, resulting in Noah Fondren scoring from third base and Lovell coming in from second to make it 2-0 Cullman in the bottom of the first.

"That was huge," Cullman coach Brent Patterson said after the game on Price's two-out single that put the Bearcats in front to stay.

Caleb Lipsey, who went 3-for-4 batting eighth in the lineup, began the second with a single, then was sacrificed to second on a bunt from Ben Smith.

That brought Fondren to the plate, who walked, then Levi Thomas was safe on a fielding error. Lovell doubled home Lipsey and Fondren, and Heatherly blooped a single to center scoring Thomas with the Bearcats leading 5-0 after the inning ended.

Heatherly had trouble in the Helena half of the third. Jake Busby reached base on a fielder's choice, Riley Davis singled and Sam Praytor was hit by a Heatherly curve ball to load the bases with two outs.

Brophy drew a walk from Heatherly, forcing home Busby to get the Huskies on the scoreboard.  Adams flew out to left to end the threat. Heatherly retired seven in a row before giving up a one-out walk in the fifth to Brophy.

Cullman led 6-1 when lightning was seen by the umpires from right field as Heatherly ended the Helena fourth with a toss to Price at first at 7:12 p.m.The game didn't resume until 8:43 p.m. and took one hour from there to be completed.

Wheeler Eastman singled home Carter Bowen in the fourth with Price coming in after relief pitcher Brooks Tolbert failed to get pinch runner Carson Freeman in a rundown between first and second. The Bearcats carried an 8-1 advantage to the fifth.

The final run for the 'Cats came in the sixth when Smith walked and scored on Fondren's ground out that was thrown away. Helena committed eight errors in the game, six of them from throws by the infield that went awry.

Michael Myers came in to relieve Heatherly with one out in the seventh and got Davis to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

The first four batters for Cullman, Fondren, Thomas, Lovell and Heatherly, combined for one hit each in 13 at bats. Price, batting sixth and Lipsey, hitting eighth, combined for five hits in eight at bats. Cullman was 10-for-28 on the night.

Another situation happened following the rain delay. In the top of the sixth, an elderly man sitting in the Cullman stands above the first-base dugout suffered a medical emergency. The game was stopped momentarily, with the gentleman taken to an area hospital for treatment. His name was not identified to The Tribune.

Game two of the series is Friday at 10 a.m. as the championship moves to Riverwalk Stadium, the home of the AA Montgomery Biscuits from the Southern League. Game three, if needed, will be at 1 p.m.

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  • Johnny Thornton