Cullman’s baseball squad spent its Saturday in the sun over at Southside-Gadsden, where it split a doubleheader to move to 8-7 on the season.
The Bearcats needed eight innings to grab a clutch 6-5 win in Game 1 before dropping the nightcap via a 4-2 decision.
“It was a productive day for us,” coach Brent Patterson said. “We got a lot of things out of it. We just really need to find a little more consistency on offense.”
Noah Fondren picked up the win in the opening contest after pitching seven innings of solid baseball. He gave up seven hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out one in the close victory.
With the contest knotted at 4-all, Cullman scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning — a Kolby Robinson RBI single and a throwing error from Southside’s catcher helped the cause — to retake the lead heading into the bottom half of the frame.
Sam Huser allowed the Panthers’ one run before closing the door on the home team and notching the save.
Lance Cleveland, Samuel Murphree, Owen Lovell and Maison Goodwin each had two hits for the Black and Gold in the win.
The latter two — as well as Robinson — collected an RBI, while Christian Martinez drove in two to lead all Bearcats.
“We had some mistakes early, but I thought we really settled soon after,” Patterson said. “I was pretty pleased with how we persevered late in the game as well.”
Unfortunately for the head man, his team was unable to carry that momentum into Game 2.
Huser hit a homer and Jesse Scott hurled 5 2/3 innings while allowing just two earned runs on six hits, but the Bearcats only roped four hits as a group and came away empty-handed.
Drake Hollingworth, Cleveland and Robinson all had singles.
“We couldn’t get anything going on offense,” Patterson said. “We just had a letdown.”
Despite all that, the Bearcats actually led 2-1 before allowing three runs in the bottom of the sixth to the Panthers.
Cullman will play two at home versus Grissom on Tuesday.
% Shoals Christian 6, Vinemont 3: The Eagles came three runs away from dousing the Flame, Class 1A’s state champs three of the last four years, in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday on the road.
Riley Foust fanned two and allowed two walks, three earned runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings before replacing an injured Landon Ballew behind the plate. Lance Stanley struck out two in relief.
Josh Kent, Ballew and Foust all pitched in a hit and RBI.
% Shoals Christian 8, Vinemont 1: Foust continued his red-hot pace at the plate with a 3-for-4 performance that included a triple, run scored and pair of stolen bases.
The Eagles received three innings from starter Takota Millwood. Sam Wood, Garrett Boland and Dustin McGraw also saw time on the mound.
Vinemont will head cross-county to Holly Pond Tuesday.
% Auburn 4, Mercer 1: Saturdays have quickly transformed into the Keegan Thompson Show for the Tigers.
The Cullman High product was once again up to his usual antics, needing only 78 pitches to fire seven shutout innings and bump his record to 3-0 in four starts. Thompson notched two K’s, gave up just as many hits and walked three. The freshman, who hasn’t given up a run in 16 innings, enjoyed one stretch where he mowed down 12 batters in a row.
Thompson’s ERA now stands at a razor-thin 0.24.
“I thought Keegan was really outstanding,” coach Sunny Golloway said in an Auburn press release. “He didn’t have a lot of strikeouts, but I thought Mercer and their attack had a lot to do with that. I thought he was just as good, just as sharp as he has been.”
The Tigers (8-6) will take a swipe at the series sweep Sunday at noon. They’ll open conference play next weekend at home against Texas A&M.
% The Times’ Jake Winfrey and Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.