Coach Brent Patterson never once thought his Cullman baseball team was going to get beat in Wednesday’s Hoover Classic contest against Pell City.
And he was right, even if it took nine innings and a dropped routine popup to the pitcher to prove it.
After allowing seven runs on seven hits in the very first frame, Owen Lovell and the Bearcats calmly clawed back with eight unanswered to walk away with an 8-7 victory.
The triumph bumped the Class 5A No. 3 Bearcats to 21-8 overall and 3-1 in pool play entering tourney play on Thursday. They'll duke it out with Sipsey Valley at 9 a.m. and an unknown opponent at 2 p.m.
Lovell was pretty close to perfect following Pell City’s first-inning outburst. The freshman set down eight batters on strikes and only gave up one hit — a two-out single in the sixth — the rest of the way out.
As if that weren’t enough, Lovell was also 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles and RBIs, the first two-bagger a scalding shot as part of a four-run first inning.
“He’s growing up as a player,” Patterson said of the rising star. “To give up seven and not be shaken, that shows a little bit of maturity in itself.”
Samuel Murphree shed a two-day dry spell with a fantastic showing in the field and a two-out, two-strike double in the ninth inning. He came around to score when an ordinary fly ball off the bat of Kolby Robinson bounced off the pitcher’s glove and rolled to the front of Pell City’s dugout.
Cole Collins was consistent with two hits and three RBIs in five at-bats, including a two-run double in the opening frame. Auston Neal was good for an RBI single, and Robinson and Lance Cleveland each had hits, the latter’s of the pinch-hit variety.
% The Times’ sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.