Cullman is heading back to the semifinals for a sixth consecutive year.
Peyton Colvard smashed a first-inning grand slam, Dylon Wallace hurled 5 1/3 clutch innings, and the Class 6A No. 7 Bearcats (26-13) downed third-ranked Hazel Green 9-3 in Friday’s Game 3 tiebreaker to keep their season — and championship dreams — alive for at least another week.
The defending-champion Trojans, on the other hand, capped off their 2019 campaign with a 27-17 record.
Coach Brent Patterson couldn’t keep the pride out of his voice when discussing his team’s performance.
“I couldn’t be more proud to tell you the truth,” he said. “It’s hard to put into words. I think we won today because of yesterday — the way we never quit, the way we continued to battle. I’m just very proud of the way they competed. They came out and played loose. To beat a team like Hazel Green is a huge accomplishment, and I don’t want to understate how proud I am of them.”
Niklas Fondren (single), Cooper Beck (walk) and Brennen Norton (walk) loaded the bases for Cullman with no outs in the first inning before Colvard pulverized a 1-2 pitch over the left-field fence to hand his team a quick 4-0 cushion.
That’s all Wallace needed on the mound.
He scattered six hits, two earned runs and three strikeouts to earn the win against a potent lineup.
“Dylon kind of encapsulates this team,” Patterson said. “He’s incredibly competitive. The whole team feeds off that, which can get the momentum on our side. What he did on the mound definitely did that.
“Peyton also responded after a tough Game 2. For him to put yesterday behind him and come up with that huge grand slam was awesome. That allowed everybody to really take a deep breath and get into the flow of the game. Then we added some runs. You can’t have enough of those with Hazel Green.”
Colvard ripped his second homer of the day — a solo shot in the sixth inning — to put Cullman ahead 7-2 before Beck added a two-run bomb in the seventh inning to make it a 9-2 game.
Beck also recorded an RBI single in the fifth inning, and Ben Hollis secured an RBI as well following a safety squeeze in the fourth inning.
Colvard contributed three hits and five RBIs to pace the Bearcats offensively, while Beck (three RBIs), Nicholas Braswell and Fondren came up with two hits apiece. Norton pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to pick up the save, allowing three hits and striking out one.
Cullman will play No. 8 Hueytown or Gardendale next week in the semifinals.
For now, the Black and Gold will enjoy this one.
“I’m not going to lie, we’re going to take about 12 hours to celebrate,” Patterson said with a laugh. “Then we’ve got to get to work, keep this going and get a little better every day.”