MONTGOMERY — Peyton Colvard attempted to collect himself under the weight of his celebrating teammates, taking a brief but powerful moment to remember fondly one who wasn’t there.
Brent Patterson stood stoically on the first-base side of the field at Riverwalk Stadium and spoke softly and simply the words, ‘I can’t believe it,’ to no one in particular.
Both Colvard and Patterson fought their own different emotions to no avail — not that either cared.
Because when all was said and done, Cullman baseball was back on top.
The No. 7 Bearcats defeated Chelsea 9-4 in Montgomery on Friday night, garnering their first Class 6A state championship since 2015 and fifth in program history. The Black and Gold (30-13) secured a 1-0 walk-off victory in Game 1 to set up the eventual title sweep.
When the dust finally settled on the indescribable win, Colvard revealed what was going through his mind in the seconds after the final out was recorded.
“We’re dog-piling and thinking, ‘We’ve got to go get our Curt shirts on,’” the senior said, referencing Curt Wilson, a former Cullman baseball player who died tragically in May 2017. “Ever since we lost our boy, that’s been who we’ve played for — him and the good Lord above. We miss him every day and play for him every day. This is a dream come true for us to win this.”
For Patterson, meanwhile, his initial disbelief soon transformed into a sense of pride the longtime coach had a hard time putting into words.
“To play the schedule we played, to learn from the hard times we went through … it’s not so much that we didn’t have the type of players we usually do, it’s more the adversity and obstacles they had to overcome,” he said. “And they never made an excuse. It was never a crutch for them when they were playing badly. I’m amazed at what this team did and how they achieved what we achieved.”
Colvard, who was named the series MVP, broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth inning with an RBI triple before coming around to score on a Ben Hollis single. Nicholas Braswell notched a two-run single later in the frame to put the Bearcats in front 7-3.
They tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning before eventually sealing the deal.
Hollis racked up three hits and one RBI to lead the offense, while Braswell (two RBIs) and Niklas Fondren each recorded two hits. Colvard (RBI), Dylon Wallace (RBI), Brady Patterson (RBI), Hayden Stancil and Brennen Norton all corralled one hit apiece for Cullman.
Colvard earned the win on the mound, scattering eight hits, two earned runs and three strikeouts.
The Bearcats were limited to just one hit in Game 1, but it was more than enough.
Norton broke up Connor Ball’s no-hitter with a double in the seventh inning and came around to score following an error by Chelsea’s shortstop on a Colvard grounder.
Wallace pitched a one-hit shutout to snag the victory, striking out six batters.
The senior, who also had a two-run single in the nightcap, was ecstatic following the sweep.
“‘We did it,’” exclaimed Wallace. “That’s what went through my mind. Nobody picked us to win it this year. That made us work harder, people thinking, ‘We aren’t going to be here, we aren’t going to win it.’ That drove us to work hard and dedicate ourselves. It’s the best feeling ever. We told ourselves on the bus ride down here we weren’t coming back with red. And we are coming back with blue.”
While Patterson praised his players plenty, he reserved some of his kindest words for the contingent of Cullman fans that showed up in full force for both games at Riverwalk Stadium.
Not to mention the numerous supporters along the way.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever heard it that loud,” he said. “It was so loud, and people were excited. You can’t overstate how much that’s a part of what happened today. Our guys fed off that. It’s not just a baseball team, it’s a community.
“There were thousands of hands that went into this championship. Literally. We wanted to win to cap off an incredible year, but we also wanted to win to bring it home to the Cullman family — for the teams that were here and didn’t, for the teams that did, for all the guys who came back and poured into this group … we wanted to win this for them. To be able to do that is fantastic.
“We’re going to take more than one day to celebrate this one. We are going to hug a lot of necks, shake a lot of hands and say, ‘Thank you.’ This wasn’t just us, this was our entire community.”