Glencoe splits with White Plains


White Plains’ Zach Cunningham, left, catches Glencoe’s Will Parker in a rundown with teammate Jonathan Bradshaw on Saturday. (Photo by Dave Hyatt | Gadsden Times)


GLENCOE — Glencoe looked to be in position Saturday to move on to the second round of the Class 3A high school playoffs after a 9-3 win in the postseason opener against White Plains.

Then the Yellow Jackets ran into Zach Cunningham.

The Wildcats senior pitcher struck out 10 while yielding just two hits and one run through six innings in White Plains’ 7-2 win. The final game in the best-of-three series is at 4:30 p.m. for the right to move on and play the winner of the Piedmont vs. Cleveland series, which also has a third game remaining.

In Saturday’s first game, a five-run sixth inning by the Yellow Jackets blew open a tense, tight game.

An injury hurt Glencoe at the start of the second game, and things didn’t improve much from there for the Yellow Jackets. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, left fielder Ryan George bruised his kneecap after running into the fence chasing a fly ball. His injury prevented him from retrieving the ball and throwing it in, allowing White Plains’ Tyler Hardcastle to come all the way around for an inside-the-park grand slam.

Cunningham took care of the rest for the Wildcats.

“We were facing a good pitcher out there,” Glencoe coach Charlie Robertson said. “We hit the ball pretty fair, we just hit it right at them. We talk about going up there (to bat) with a plan, but they didn’t have a plan (in the second game). They just went up there swinging.”

Robertson said that George, who left the game after the injury that kept him down on the field for several minutes, is doubtful for Monday’s rubber game. He was replaced by Pace Ozmint.

White Plain won the coin flip after Saturday’s doubleheader and the Wildcats will be the home team for Monday’s series-clinching game.

The Yellow Jackets (15-5) fell behind early in the opener. Ryan Kirby drove in a run on an infield single in the top of the first off of pitcher Dalton Reid. A sacrifice fly by Miles Masters in the top of the third extended the lead to 2-0.

Things turned around in the bottom of the third. Glencoe loaded the bases with no outs against White Plains hurler Peyton Whitten. Houston Word reached on a throwing error by Whitten that allowed the first Yellow Jacket run. A ground out and an intentional walk again packed the bags. Reid brought all three base runners home with a triple to deep right to give Glencoe  a 4-2 edge, its first lead of the game.

An RBI single by Hardcastle in the top of the sixth cut the deficit to 4-3, but the Yellow Jackets ran away with it in the bottom of the frame. All five runs came with two outs against Whitten. Dalton Roberts got things going with an RBI single. Word again reached on an error that scored a run. After White Plains catcher Joseph Dothard dropped a pop fly that allowed Daniel Otwell to get to second base and Word to move to third, Will Parker drove both Glencoe runners in with a single to push the lead to 8-3. Parker moved up to second base on the throw in from the outfield, and scored on a single by Reid to give Glencoe a six-run advantage.

Reid collected two hits and four RBI while going all seven innings on the mound. He gave up 10 hits, but allowed just three runs while striking out three. Parker walked twice along with his two-RBI single.

“We played good in the first game,” Robertson said. “We got good pitching. Good pitching stops good hitting.”

After Hardcastle’s big hit and George’s injury to start the nightcap, the Yellow Jackets never gained any momentum. The Wildcats (19-12) picked up a run in the bottom of the second when an error allowed Chandler Cox to score.

Joseph Fails gave up RBI singles to Masters and Whitten in the bottom of the third that put White Plains ahead 7-0. Jeff Ford replaced Fails on the mound in the bottom of the fourth.

“Joseph Fails was not hitting his spots,” Robertson said. “When you’re not hitting your spots against a good ball club, things are going to go bad for you.”

Parker scored on a passed ball in the top of the sixth, the only run allowed by Cunningham.

Masters relieved Cunningham in the seventh and gave up one run when Hunter Gibbs scored as White Plains got Roberts in a rundown between first and second with one out. Roberts was able to get back to first without getting tagged, but Masters struck out Otwell and induced a ground out from Parker to end the game.

In addition to getting the win, Cunningham had two hits for the Wildcats. Ozmint, Word and Roberts had the only Yellow Jacket hits, all singles. Word’s hit was the only one to get out of the infield.