Warriors rally late but fall short against Etowah

Cherokee County High School senior shortstop Jeb Crane rounds third base on his way home following his 3-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning against Etowah on Wednesday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

CENTRE – Cherokee County senior shortstop Jeb Crane energized his Warrior baseball teammates with his 3-run homer to right field in the bottom of the sixth inning against area rival Etowah on Wednesday, but that energy boost came too little too late in the Warriors’ 8-6 loss.

Warrior head coach Bret Henderson was proud of Crane’s clutch 2-for-3 performance at the plate (he also had a double to right in the third), but it was the bottom of the fourth inning that stood out to him as the biggest moment in the game.

The Warriors (15-9) had the bases loaded with no outs and chased Blue Devil starting pitcher Damon Devine from the game, but reliever Trey Gaddis retired the Warriors’ 3, 4 and 5 hitters to get out of the inning unscathed.

The Warriors let another golden opportunity slip through their fingers in the bottom of the seventh.

Designated hitter Carson Tittle led off with a walk against another Blue Devil reliever Baylor Morrison. But Morrison managed to retire the Warriors’ 7-8-9 hitters in order to preserve the win.

“We’ve got to understand we’ve got to put the ball in play. We’ve got to make them make plays,” Henderson said. “I don’t know if we had enough energy in the fourth and the fifth innings. It took one of our seniors (Crane) to hit a home run to get us back into it energy-wise. Now we’ve got to show up and play tomorrow.”

Etowah took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. The Blue Devils loaded the bases against Warrior starting pitcher Jackson Aultman with two outs and lead-off hitter Cash Hayes at the plate. Hayes drew a walk to bring home Morrison, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Aultman retired Etowah second baseman Slade St.Clair on a line out to center to end the inning.

The Warriors tied the game with a run in the bottom half of the second on Adam Griffith’s double to left with two outs that brought home Tittle. Tittle walked to lead off the inning.

Etowah regained the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the third, one of which came off a home run to left by third baseman Jameson Scissum. Scissum led the Blue Devils at the plate by going 3-for-3. He also doubled down the left field line in the sixth.

The Warriors tied the game at 3 in the bottom half of the third with a pair of runs. With one out, Crane doubled to right and Luke Young walked with one out. Nate Black then doubled to right center to score Crane. Tittle followed with another walk to load the bases for Parker Wilson. Wilson tied the game on a fielder’s choice at second.

Etowah countered with a four-run top of the fourth against Warrior reliever Garrett McRay. The big blow was a two-run double to center by Bodie Bennett. Morrison also brought home a run on a double to left and Bennett Reeves doubled to right to bring home another run.

After the Warriors’ scoreless bottom of the fourth, the Blue Devils added an insurance run in the top of the top of the fifth to make the score 8-3 before Crane’s homer in the bottom half cut the Warrior lead to two runs.

“That kid loves the game of baseball,” Henderson said of Crane. “He’s going to show up and he’s going to play and give you everything he’s got. He’s going to swing it hard. He doesn’t get cheated at all. I’m proud of him and proud of what we did to get us back in the game, but today we didn’t get enough.”

On Thursday, the series shifts to Attalla beginning at 4:30 p.m., where the Warriors hope to take two and stay in the playoff hunt.

“They’ll show up and be ready to play. They’re going to give me everything they’ve got,” Henderson said. “I look forward to it. Hopefully we’ll get two.”

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