Jacksonville must win one of the first two games in their area matchup against the Cubs, or hope that Cherokee County, winless in area play, can pull an upset over Hokes Bluff.
Golden Eagle head coach David Deerman remarked, “It’s in our hands. We have very similar teams (Alexandria and Jacksonville). They are good on the mound and they hit it good. It will all come down to whoever executes best.”
Jacksonville, ranked No. 9 in the most recent 4A state rankings, will travel to Alexandria, ranked No. 6, in the first game of the series to be played at 4:30. On Thursday the Valley Cubs will travel to Jacksonville.
Last week Jacksonville lost the best of three series with Hokes Bluff losing the first game 4-3, winning the next 14-0 but losing the rubber match 3-0.
Jacksonville (16-7, 3-2) had top notch pitching from senior Shed Long in game one. Long struck out 15 while allowing only three hits in the 4-3 loss.
Long was also right on at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a homerun.
Tanner Shields was also on his game pitching for Hokes Bluff, besides the three hits Shields gave up to Long, he gave up only two others, singles to Sid Thurmond and Payton Sims.
Hokes Bluff scored in the first inning off of two hits.
Long gave the Eagles their first run hitting his homerun in the bottom of the first to tie the game up 1-1.
In the bottom of the third the Eagles put two more runs on the board. Kyle Reeves started things off reaching first on an error. A single by Payton Sims scored Andrew Clingan running for Reeves. Long hit another single and the bases became loaded when Jackson Bell reached on another Hokes Bluff error. The Eagles brought another run across the plate when Chance Marbut was hit by a pitch for a 3-1 Jacksonville lead.
Hokes Bluff scored another run in the top of the sixth when Long, showing signs of tiring, gave up a single, hit a batter then walked another batter to load the bases. A run scored on a passed ball.
In the seventh inning, Hokes Bluff loaded the bases, all on walks, and a single to left brought in two runs and Hokes Bluff had their first lead 4-3.
Jacksonville couldn’t produce in the bottom of the seventh and Hokes Bluff picked up the win.
Game two was all Jacksonville. Junior Payton Sims was amazing on the mound, allowing just one hit, giving up only one walk while striking out four. The Eagles defense behind Sims played inspired ball as Hokes Bluff had five innings of three up, three down.
Jacksonville flexed its muscles at the plate as well with 13 hits.
The Eagles scored two runs in the first, three in the third, two on a two run blast over the right field fence by Tanner Sims, three runs in the fourth and six runs in the sixth for the 14-0 lopsided win.
Tanner Sims ended 1-for-2 with the homerun, Jackson Bell had a great day at the plate going 3-for-4 with a double, Andrew Clingan 2-for-4 with a double, Sid Thurmond and Nate Whaley 2-for-3, and Payton Sims, Jared Tippets and BJ Murphy all had singles.
While Jacksonville bats couldn’t be silenced in the second game, in the third game they couldn’t wake up. Jacksonville could only muster four singles, two by Tanner Sims, one by Payton Sims and another by Whaley.
Seth Pollard pitched a complete game for Hokes Bluff striking out nine.
Hokes Bluff scored two runs in the third and another in the fifth to take the 3-0 win.