Friday’s quarterfinal round doubleheader will start at 5 p.m. If a third game is needed to decide the best-of-three series, it will be played Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Panthers (28-15) advanced the hard way, dropping the first game of their series against Madison Academy 11-5 Friday before rain caused Friday’s second game to be suspended until Monday. Mars Hill Bible won the second game 5-1 then captured the third game 8-1.
“They’re going to be a good team and probably the best pitching we’ve faced,” Piedmont coach James Blanchard said prior to Tuesday’s practice. “The kid that’s going to Alabama (Thomas Burrows) and the kid that’s going to Mississippi State (Glenn Irby) are the real deal. They throw it hard.”
The Bulldogs reached the third round with two unconventional wins to sweep Glencoe Friday.
Senior Cade Bradley, usually a dominating pitcher, had to pitch out of trouble in every inning but the sixth in Game 1. In the sixth, he retired the middle of the Yellow Jackets’ lineup in order before his teammates scored three runs in the bottom of the frame for an 11-1 victory.
Glencoe got an unearned run in the top of the first and had runners on third and second with one out, looking for a big inning, when Bradley picked Daniel Otwell off third on a throw to Bayley Blanchard.
With two down and a runner on second, Collin Bradley scooped a hard-hit ground ball at first for the final out. In the Glencoe second, a leadoff single died at third base.
In the third came a one-out base hit that did no damage. Glencoe began the fourth with a double by Dalton Reid but Reid never reached third.
An infield single and a hit to leftfield put Yellow Jackets on third and first with no one out in the fifth. On a delayed steal, catcher Matt Strott threw to second baseman Caleb Adams in front of the bag. Adams’ return throw arrived just ahead of the runner from third.
Strott blocked the plate and applied the tag for the first out. Bradley came back from a 3-0 count to strike out the next batter and Dillon Terry chased down a fly to right for the final out.
Down 1-0, Piedmont took the lead with three runs in the third. Cade Bradley doubled and scored on Strott’s base hit. Cass McCord singled and later scored on an error. Collin Bradley had an RBI base hit.
In the fourth, McCord picked the perfect time for his first career home run. With the bases loaded, McCord jumped on the first pitch he saw and launched it over the leftfield fence, pushing Piedmont’s lead to 7-1.
“He threw me a curve ball. I read it out of his hand and I just mashed it,” McCord said.
In the fifth, Tyler Lusk was hit by a pitch and scored on Cade Bradley’s two-out double.
Collin Bradley, Adams and Terry had an RBI each in the sixth.
Bradley struck out three in seven innings of work. He was 3-for-3 with an intentional walk. McCord had a double, a single and a walk in addition to his home run. He scored three times.
In the nightcap, the Bulldogs batted as the visitors and won 9-4 after scoring five times in the top of the ninth inning. With Terry on the mound for Piedmont, three runs in the first put Glencoe up 3-0.
“The first inning I was just a little tight, a little nervous, and then as the innings went on I just felt a little more loose and did what I had to do,” Terry said.
Piedmont got three in the second and one in the third for a 4-3 edge but in the first seven innings the Bulldogs left the bases loaded three times and stranded a total of 14 runners.
“During the game, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve left so many guys on base it’s going to come back and haunt us,’ and sure enough it did,” Blanchard said. “We got tied 4-4 there.”
The tying run came in the fourth but Terry sandwiched two ground ball outs around a strikeout to leave the potential go-ahead run at third. Glencoe loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth. A pop up to second base and two splendid fielding plays, the first by Collin Bradley at first and the last by Adams at second, ended the inning with no damage.
Piedmont’s defense rose to occasion again in the seventh. With two outs and runners on second and first, cleanup batter Will Parker hit a sharp single through the box and into centerfield. McCord charged the ball and made a perfect throw to Strott, blocking the plate, for the third out.
Terry walked to start the ninth and Taylor Hayes bunted him to second base. Tyler Lusk hit an 0-2 fast ball sharply up the middle into centerfield and Terry scored from second when the throw home was cut off at the mound. Lusk’s hit put the Bulldogs back at the top of the order and four consecutive hits followed. Cade Bradley doubled and Strott doubled home two more runs. McCord singled and Collin Bradley ended the scoring surge with a two-run double.
Payton Young’s two-run home run in the second, his seventh bomb of the season, started the scoring for Piedmont. Singles by Adams and Terry set the table for Cade Bradley’s two-out RBI single to left. The Piedmont third began with Collin Bradley’s single. Young’s base hit moved Bradley into scoring position and Adams’ single to right made it 4-3 Piedmont.
Terry, who retired the Yellow Jackets in order in the eighth, knocked down a line drive hit directly at him and threw to first for the initial out in the bottom of the ninth and Cade Bradley gobbled up a ground ball to shortstop for out No. 2. After a base hit, Terry completed the longest outing of his pitching career with his fifth strikeout of the night.
“There were so many plays. … We played 10 kids in the game and I think all 10 of them did something. Whether it was a pitch, it was a catch, it was a throw, it was a hit – every one of them contributed something big to win that ball game,” Blanchard said.