For five innings in the first game of a doubleheader, the Russell County and Spanish Fort baseball teams matched each other pitch for pitch. In the sixth inning, however, the Warriors seized control in a big way.
SPANISH FORT, Ala. -- Russell County sent nine batters to plate, hitting three home runs and scoring four runs to knock Spanish Fort starting pitcher Ethan Walker from the game. The Warriors added one more in the seventh and won the opener 5-0.
A win in Game 2 would send Russell County to the Class 5A finals, where it would meet the winner of Hartselle and Pinson Valley.
After managing just two hits over the first 5 1/3 innings, shortstop Trevor Davis got the action started with a solo home run to right field. Two batters later, pitcher Jesse Nelson launched a two-run homer to left. Third baseman Anfernee Grier followed with a no-doubter to make it three homers in four batters, turning a 0-0 game to 4-0 in mere minutes.
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“After seeing him twice through the lineup, I think our guys just started to have a good read on him,” Nelson said. “Once you see the guy in front of you hit one, you start to feel like you can hit him too. We just started to get some momentum.”
Nelson was 2 for 3 at the plate, driving in two runs and hitting a double to go with his homer. His day at the plate was only outdone by his pitching performance, a complete-game, two-hit shutout of the top-ranked team in the state. He struck out eight batters in the game.
“The way we felt after last year, I just came in here wanting to get things started well,” he said. “(Winning the first one) doesn’t relieve much pressure, though.”
Russell County took the first game of the best-of-three series a year ago, as well, but fell in three. It will look to finish the sweep in Game 2, which begins at approximately 8:20 ET.
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