- Cullman, Alabama

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March 7, 2014

CULLMAN COUNTY BASEBALL TOURNEY: Hanceville whoops Good Hope 11-0, Warriors win two to grab spot in title game

HANCEVILLE — Hanceville’s baseball team has taken the term home-field advantage to a whole new level.

The Bulldogs rolled over Good Hope 11-0 inside their friendly confines on Friday to earn a place in the 2014 Cullman County Baseball Tournament championship game Saturday at noon. It was the third home win of the week for the Purple and Gold.

Christian James tossed four innings of no-hit ball, striking out three batters and walking just one. Hayden Loggins went boss at the plate, collecting three hits and three RBIs in the victory.

“This is what we wanted to accomplish today,” coach Michael Chandler said. “It worked out for us. We hit the ball well. We’re right where we want to be now.”

Hanceville scored a run in each of the first two innings before unleashing chaos in the fourth.

Dant’e Reese and James reached to start the frame and stole second and third, respectively, to set up an RBI pop from Kody Smith. Isaac Weissend followed with a two-run single of his own to make it 5-0 Dawgs. After a pair of walks, Loggins walloped a two-run double in the gap to score two more runs and stake his squad to a seven-run cushion.

That was all James needed.

The Bulldog ace was on point all game long and — even when he slipped up — his defense more than took care of business.

Good Hope’s Nathan Doss smoked a ground ball to shortstop Austin Coker, who slid on one knee to his right, popped up and gunned out the batter by a half step to keep the no-no intact.

Hanceville’s D didn’t quit there, either, as first baseman Keith Twitty handled a wide toss from Loggins at third base — which pulled the senior off the base completely. However, Twitty maintained his wits about him and dove on the bag just in time to get the out and end the inning.

“Our defense played great today,” Chandler said. “Austin was absolutely the best I have ever seen him today. He made some great throws for us.”

Added James: “I knew I had to come out and pitch well. I trust those guys and expect them to make plays behind me, just as they expect me to throw strikes. It’s a lot easier to pitch with those guys making plays behind me.”

James also collected two hits at the plate. Isaac Hardin and Kody Smith pitched in knocks as well for the winning team.

The Raiders’ lone hit of the contest came from Tyler Vanderburg, who roped a double in the last half of the fifth.

Hanceville will take on West Point — the Bulldogs defeated the Warriors 3-1 on Tuesday — in the championship game of the tournament. One win will net the Dawgs a county crown, while two losses would hand it over to the Warriors for the second-straight year.

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