By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Coach Chad Shannon is all for winning baseball games, even if those victories come in unconventional ways.
He certainly got his fill of that and more Friday, as Vinemont sent Danville packing with an 8-7 win on a walkoff walk from Sam Wood in the eighth inning.
The Eagles clinched their first area series of the year with the victory and improved to their overall record to 15-7.
The win keeps the Red and White’s playoff hopes alive heading into the waning weeks of the season.
“It doesn’t always look pretty,” Shannon said. “But these kids find ways to win games. I’m proud of them for that.”
Trailing 3-0 in the second inning, Vinemont got on the board with back-to-back RBI hits — a triple by Chasten Beck and a single by Braxton Heaton — to cut the deficit to one. Ty Jones later tied the game with a sacrifice fly that scored Riley Foust.
The Eagles found themselves trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth frame but quickly amended that with some timely hits and smart baserunning.
Beck started out the inning legging out an infield single before Heaton and Foust reached on a couple of bunt singles to load the bases with nobody out.
From there, Jones was hit by a pitch to score the tying run. The Eagles took the lead on a Danville balk the very next hitter and then extended their advantage to 6-4 on a sac fly from Nathan Persall.
“We have a pretty evenly matched area,” Shannon said. “Fortunately, we got some hits throughout the game.”
Holding a 7-5 cushion in the seventh inning, pitcher Duncan Hopper had a chance to put the game away for his team but an errant two-out throw on a comebacker to the mound allowed the Hawks to score the tying run and extend the game into extra innings.
Hopper pitched well in relief of Heaton, tossing six solid innings and pitching out of trouble most every frame.
“He was a bulldog for us tonight,” Shannon said. “He picked up the win against them Tuesday and threw six innings as well. He’s a good senior for us.”
After both teams failed to score in the next two half-innings, Jones initiated the Eagles’ win with a one-out triple to left-center field.
Following the at-bat, Danville’s manager elected to put on the next two batters for Vinemont, loading the bases for a potential out at every base.
“From a baseball perspective, it was the right move,” Shannon said. “It just didn’t work out this time.”
With pressure on the Hawks’ hurler, Wood calmly took the first three pitches of his at-bat for balls before taking two strikes to bring his count full.
In the end, though, Wood was able to draw the walk, taking an inside pitch for ball four to give his team the victory.
Foust and Beck led the Eagles with three hits apiece. Foust also drew a walk and scored a couple of runs. Jones’ triple was the senior’s lone hit of the game. He grabbed two stolen bases and drove in a pair of runs. Teddy Drake and Heaton each garnered base hits as well.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at email@example.com.