Young bats, pitching propel Glencoe over Hokes Bluff


Glencoe’s Jeff Ford pitches against Hokes Bluff during the Yellow Jackets’ 7-3 victory Wednesday in Hokes Bluff. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times)


HOKES BLUFF — Glencoe used its big bats and the pitching arm of a freshman to take a 7-3 victory over Hokes Bluff in high school baseball Wednesday.

The game, which was delayed one day because of a wet field, began with the Class 4A Eagles (6-2) holding a 1-0 edge after the first inning. The 3A Yellow Jackets (5-4) responded by scoring seven unanswered runs in the next three innings to take the lead they never relinquished. Ninth-grader Jeff Ford, who replaced starting pitcher Dalton Reid after one inning because of an arm issue, pitched four solid innings to secure the win.

“We’re hitting the ball pretty good,” Glencoe coach Charlie Robertson said. “We’re young, too. The third baseman (Will Parker) is a ninth-grader, the centerfielder (Dalton Roberts) is a ninth-grader, the pitcher was a ninth-grader. We’ve got a 10-grader in right field (Hunter Gibbs) and at catcher (Hunter Nunnally). We’ve been up and down. We hit the ball today off of a good pitcher.”

Reid left the game after the first inning, but Robertson said it was nothing too serious.

“His arm was bothering him a little bit and we play area games Monday and Tuesday and I have to have him,” Robertson said.

Ford allowed just one earned run and five hits in relief before Joseph Fails got the final three outs in the bottom of the seventh.

Despite his status as a freshman, Robertson said that Ford already has gained some good experience.

“He beat Talladega a couple of weeks ago,” Robertson said. “He pitched against Piedmont and made a couple of bad pitches and they knocked him out in about the fourth inning. I was glad to see some good pitching (from him) today.”

The Eagles put the initial run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first after the Yellow Jackets loaded the bases in the top of the frame, only to see pitcher Tanner Shields coax a double-play ground out to escape the jam. Brad Robertson, Hokes Bluff’s leadoff hitter, smacked a solo home run over the right center field fence off of Reid to stake the Eagles to their only lead of the game.

Things turned for Glencoe in the top of the third. Roberts led off with an infield single. Houston Word followed him by reaching on an error, and Daniel Otwell, who finished the game 3 for 4 with three RBI, singled to load the bases. Parker then smoked a double to left field that plated all three Yellow Jackets for a 3-1 lead. After Shields got the next two hitters out, he threw a wild pitch that brought Parker home and gave Glencoe a 4-1 edge.

In the top of the fourth, Roberts doubled with one out. Word reached on an infield single. Otwell capped the Yellow Jackets’ scoring day by lifting a home run to right center field to push the lead to 7-1.

Hokes Bluff sliced into the lead a bit in the bottom of the fifth. Brad Robertson, Chase Beggs and Braydon Hawk each hit a single to pack the bases with one out.

Dylan McKee followed with a sacrifice fly to cut it to 7-2. Shields then reached on an error that scored Beggs and made it 7-3.

The Eagles had one last chance in the bottom of the seventh. Ford walked Brad Robertson, who went 2 for 3 in the game, and was relieved by Fails. He struck out the next two hitters but hit McKee to put two runners on. However, he fanned Shields to end the game and give Glencoe a win over its county archrival.

It also provided Charlie Robertson a bit of satisfaction in the form of a win over his brother, Hokes Bluff coach Mike Robertson.

“No, definitely no,” Charlie Robertson said with a laugh, when asked if beating his brother ever gets old. “It is definitely enjoyable. It’s a big game for us, every time we come over here. It’s a big rivalry and it’s always good to beat them, especially heading into area play.

“If we keep peaking, we’ll peak at the right time, hopefully.”

Shields, who threw a perfect game against Crossville on March 7, allowed 11 hits and one walk while striking out nine in taking the loss.

Ford walked three and struck out one in getting the win. Fails struck out three and walked one in his lone inning of work.

Parker went 3 for 4 with three RBI for the Yellow Jackets, who host Piedmont on Thursday.