SYLACAUGA -- Sylacauga High School’s baseball team defeated Fayetteville 2-1 in a clash of Talladega County champions Thursday night.
Aggies senior shortstop Zach Dew drove in Anderson Wykoff with the game-tying run in the bottom of the fifth inning. After stealing his way to third base, Dew would score the winning run on a 3-2 pitch by Fayetteville’s Peyton Wesson with Sylacauga third baseman Peyton Natali at the plate.
Natali swung and missed the pitch, but Wolves catcher Zach Roberts couldn’t hang onto the ball for the third out or beat Natali to first with the throw. Dew raced home uncontested.
“It’s a rule that we benefit from where if it’s a swinging third strike and first base is available, he’s allowed to run that out,” Sylacauga head coach Jeff Bell said. “We’re really fortunate to pick up that run. If the catcher catches it, the inning is over. If the ball is fouled, we start all over again. It was just a swing-through, and the catcher didn’t handle it.”
Fayetteville had an opportunity to tie it in the top of the sixth with one out and a runner on third. Wolves left fielder JB Matson launched a pitch from Dew deep into center field, but the Aggies were able to turn an 8-5 double play when Lawson Adams raced towards home just a bit too early.
“I’m very blessed to be a part of this team and to coach this team,” Fayetteville head coach Morris Phillips said. “I’m very proud of them for the way they played tonight. They played a very good team right there.
“Sylacauga is a very good baseball team. We hung with them and made some mistakes defensively. That one inning hurt us, and then the baserunning mistake in the sixth inning that could’ve tied the game up was a crucial moment.”
The game matched the 2019 Talladega County Tournament champions. Sylacauga won the Class 4A-5A tournament, while Fayetteville won the 1A-3A version.
Fayetteville took a 1-0 lead in the opening frame on a double by third baseman Kolter Usrey that brought home second baseman Jacob Vice from second.
Wolves senior pitcher Wesson put in six innings of work, striking out 11 and walking five while allowing two hits.
“Peyton Wesson pitched a heckuva game,” Phillips said. “I can’t say enough about him. That guy laid it on the line tonight. I’m very proud of him.”
Wesson, who missed his junior season with a knee injury, said he was glad to be back and play in this game.
“It’s just an honor to go out there and be able to compete against one of the best teams in this county,” Wesson said. “I thought we competed really well, for them to be a 5A. Our team, we laid it on the line. We just came up a little short.”
Bell said his team struggled a bit early against the Wolves.
“You’ve got probably one of the best pitchers that we’re going to face this year,” he said. “Peyton’s one of the best I’ve seen. He commands all three pitches, commands both sides of the strike zone and did a really good job of keeping us off-balance. It was more him than us.”
The Aggies used three pitchers: Brady Davis, Natali and Dew. Dew closed, working the final 1 2/3 innings and recording two strikeouts.
Davis started and lasted two innings with two strikeouts while giving up three hits, a run, a walk and hitting one batter. Natali pitched 3 1/3 innings with four strikeouts. He gave up two hits and hit one.