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Hartselle High's J.C. Bates pitched two innings in relief for the North team at All-Star Sports Week.
The winning pitcher
Hartselle's Bates picks up a victory in North's sweep
By Brooke Milam
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HUNTSVILLE — Hartselle High's J.C. Bates made his mark in the 11th annual All-Star Sports Week baseball doubleheader Monday at Huntsville's Joe Davis Stadium.
Selected among the state's top rising seniors, Bates pitched two innings and got the win in the second game as the North swept the South 5-1 and 8-2.
The North now leads the all-time series 10-7 over the past 11 years, which includes two complete rainouts and a second-game rainout in 2004.
Bates said he knew beforehand that the North coaches would give him two innings on the mound.
That made for an even more intense mindset than a usual pitching appearance.
"You just try to do better than what you usually do," Bates said.
Bates pitched the third and fourth innings, facing nine batters, striking out one, walking one and allowing two hits and a run.
Bates threw consistently in the mid-80s and topped out at 88 mph. Bates said speed is what stood out most to him about the pitching Monday, speaking both as a batter and watching his fellow pitchers.
"They were throwing it pretty good," Bates said.
Bates said the talent was as strong as he had expected at the event, adding that he thought his North team was particularly loaded with talent.
"I had heard some of their names," Bates said.
"I knew about some of them."
Hazel Green's Nathan Hill earned the win in the opener, striking out two, allowing one hit and one run in the third and fourth innings. Briarwood Christian's Adam Russell earned the save.
The North started left-handed Tyler Stovall of Hokes Bluff on the mound in the first game.
The North also pitched left-handers Hill and Homewood's David Hayes, before the right-handed Russell closed out the win.
Stovall struck out four in the first and second innings and was also 2-for-3 in the doubleheader with a pair of RBIs and a run scored.
Stovall picked up the North's most valuable player honor, while Opelika's Zach Blatt was named the most valuable player of the South squad.
Blatt struck out eight batters in three innings as the South's starter in the second game and had three singles and an RBI in the doubleheader.
The North went ahead 1-0 in the first game before the South tied the score 1-1 in the top of the third.
Russell drove in the go-ahead run for the North, scoring Haleyville's Trey McNutt, and Dora's Jonathan Wright drove in Thompson's Alan Reeves for a 3-1 North lead in the fourth.
Sak's Caleb Brown had an RBI single that tacked on another run in the fifth, and the North added a final run in the seventh.
The South was up 1-0 early in the second game before Stovall's RBI single scored Mountain Brook's Michael Lucas, tying the score at 1-1 in the third. Stovall later scored in the inning, putting the North ahead 2-1.
Bates took over on the mound with the North ahead 2-1.
The South tied it at 2-2 in the bottom of the third, but the North regained the lead 3-2 in the fifth and never trailed again.
North coach Lee Hall of Briarwood Christian praised Bates and his teammates for the winning efforts and said he got exactly what he expected from an all-star group.
"This is the kind of team I would have picked," Hall said. "Playing in this game is a huge honor for these guys, and it was a great honor to get to coach a group of guys like this."
All-Star Sports Week in Huntsville
Girls soccer: John Hunt Park at 5 p.m.; area athletes: Claire Walker, Decatur; Stephanie White, Austin.
Boys soccer: John Hunt Park at 7 p.m.; area athletes: Michael Alfano, Decatur; Jake Mendenhall, Austin.
Softball: Metro Kiwanis Sportsplex at 6 p.m.; area athletes: Lindsey Hawkins, Decatur; Kristy Pevahouse, Hartselle; Casey Steadman, Ardmore.
Volleyball: UAH’s Spragins Hall at 2 p.m.; area athlete: Jessy Willingham, Addison.
Girls basketball: UAH’s Spragins Hall at 6 p.m.; area athletes: Jazmine Powers, Austin; Jessi Smith, Hartselle.
Boys basketball: UAH’s Spragins Hall at 8 p.m.; area athlete: Kerry Jones, Hazlewood.
Football: Alabama A&M University’s Louis Crews Stadium at 7 p.m.; area athletes: Morgan Hull, Austin; Dusty Schofield, Hartselle; Davon McCoy, Hazlewood; Devans Orr and Corey Key, R.A. Hubbard.
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