Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer|
West Morgan second baseman Tyler Rogers backs up as shortstop Seth Wallace tags out Hatton’s Nathan Berryman at second base during the Class 2A state baseball semifinals at Hatton on Friday night. Hatton swept West Morgan and will play Leroy in the state finals in Montgomery on Tuesday.
sweeps into finals
Hornets to play Leroy in Montgomery on Tuesday
By Brooke Milam
HATTON — For the Hatton High Hornets, literally there were fireworks after the final out of a 7-2, 9-4 sweep of West Morgan in the Class 2A state baseball semifinals.
And under the bursts of green, red and blue, the Hatton fans got to their feet, and West Morgan coach Todd Stephens stood in the middle of a huddle of cheering Hornet players and wished them well in the state finals.
“I hope they go down there and win it,” Stephens said. “They’re very capable, and we’ll be rooting for them.”
Hatton will return to the state finals for the first time since 2003, when the Hornets finished runner-up to Gordo.
Hatton (32-19) will play Leroy, which advanced by beating Houston Academy 15-10, 10-8. In the opener of the best-of-three series, the two teams will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Montgomery’s Patterson Field. Games 2 and 3 are set for 4 p.m. Wednesday.
It’s a trip that the Rebels wanted to make, and the dejection in the West Morgan dugout was obvious late in the second game Friday’s second loss.
“I knew West Morgan would be playing on a little bit of emotion after a big win over (defending state champion) Ranburne last weekend and for us to answer and get the lead there in the second game was enormous,” said Hatton coach Brent Gillespie.
West Morgan ended its season at 30-11.
“We knew it was going to be really tough to come in here and beat them,” Stephens said. “This season has been great, and these kids have taken it upon themselves to work hard. They went above and beyond expectations.”
The Rebels grabbed an early lead in the opener.
West Morgan went up 1-0 in the first inning, but Hatton matched it in its half of the inning for a 1-1 tie.
The Rebels went ahead 2-1 in the second before the Hornets rolled up five runs in the inning, taking a 6-2 lead.
West Morgan squandered a chance for a rally in the fifth, failing to produce any runs after loading the bases with one out. Hatton tacked on its final run in the sixth.
Will Nichols got the win on the mound for Hatton, facing Rebels starter Anthony Atemon.
Winning pitcher Darren Hand paced Hatton in the second game, striking out four in a complete-game effort.
“That was probably the best game Darren has pitched all year and you couldn’t do it on a bigger stage — besides next week,” Gillespie said.
Behind Hand’s work on the mound, Hatton took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when a solid single by Tevin Terrell scored Matthew Dudley.
Hand drove in Will Nichols in the third for a 2-0 advantage.
Dudley scored again in the fourth, driven in by Anthony Parker, before West Morgan catcher Tyler Jones and third baseman Jacob Crowell caught Parker in a rundown between third and home plate, ending the fourth with Hatton on top 3-0.
Atemon slid into home in the bottom of the fourth, putting West Morgan on the scoreboard 3-1. Michael Clem’s single through the left side of the infield brought Daniel Korpi home and pulled West Morgan within 3-2, but the Rebels left the bases loaded in the inning.
Dudley’s walk brought home Colton Parker for Hatton in the fifth inning. Chase Martin and Justin Smith scored on Terrell’s two-run single, and Hatton led 6-2.
Dudley ripped a base-clearing, three-run triple in the sixth, and Hatton led 9-2.
For West Morgan, Clem’s double in the sixth scored Brent Lea, and Seth Wallace added a run for West Morgan in the seventh. But it was all the Rebels could muster.
“We told our guys all year to play aggressive, play hard and hold nothing back,” Gillespie said. “They know where they are and they really feel like they deserve to be here. They’ve earned it.”
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