Old rivals got to together on Monday to play one last time before high school sports were sidelined because of COVID-19 (coronavirus) related school closures.
The Scottsboro baseball team scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning and went on for a 5-0 win over visiting North Jackson Monday night at Scottsboro High School.
The game was officially scheduled on the fly late Monday morning after Scottsboro’s game at Fort Payne was canceled.
Scottsboro coach Jess Smith was desperate to find an opponent so the Wildcats could hold a “Senior Night” ceremony, and North Jackson coach Cole Porter was happy to oblige.
“Really since last Thursday, I’ve been scheduling and unscheduling games. Scheduled to go to Fort Payne (Monday), then got the news we weren’t going to be able to,” Smith said. “Fortunately Coach Porter agreed to come here. That was awesome of him. We appreciate that more than he knows. To be able to send our seniors off meant a lot. In all this uncertainty, that was certainly a blessing to get to come out here and play baseball one more time and recognize (the seniors). But it’s a bitter-sweet moment, and really more bitter (than sweet) if I’m being honest.”
Porter was glad both teams, including the teams’ seniors, got another chance to play before high school sports were put on hold until at least April 6.
“Just a weird feeling,” Porter said of the halt of spring sports. “Only way I can explain it.”
Scottsboro (9-8) has won six of their last night games as the hiatus begins.
“It’s definitely not ideal, but these were the cards dealt to us,” said Scottsboro senior Tallen Williams. “It is what it is. Everybody has to deal with, not just us. Definitely trying to stay positive. Hopefully we’ll get this break over with and get back to playing.”
The Wildcats got an impressive performance on the mound from Brandon Brewer, who pitched a five-hit shutout with four strikeouts, no walks and four hit batters. He pitched out of two bases-loaded jams in the game and “got better as the outing went on,” Smith said.
North Jackson got a solid outing from its starting pitcher Dalton Morris, who allowed only one run over five innings while striking out two. Brandon Poole struck out the side while pitching the sixth for the Chiefs.
Scottsboro struck for four runs in the bottom of the third inning. Gavin McCrary reached on a bunt single, stole second base and scored when Kyle Murphy reached on a North Jackson error after laying down a sacrifice bunt. Ethan Wininger, aboard on another North Jackson error, and Murphy scored on Dalton Wood’s RBI double. Sam Bryant’s RBI double then plated Collin Perkins, who was courtesy running for Wood, to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead.
Scottsboro got another run in the bottom of the fourth when McCrary walked and scored on Camden Matthews’ fielder’s choice.
McCrary totaled two hits and one walk for the Wildcats while Murphy and Bryant finished 2-for-3.
Ethan Wininger finished 0-3, ending the junior’s 16-game hitting streak. It was the fourth-longest hitting streak on record in Scottsboro baseball program history.
“What he did was awesome,” Smith said of Wininger, who has a .456 batting average. “It’s special to have that kind of streak. He just missed a double down the line by inches, got hit by a pitch in another (at-bat). It ended with quality at-bats.”
Macklin Guess finished 2-for-4 and Carson Smith went 2-for-3 for North Jackson (6-9) while Poole singled and Jody Moore was hit by a pitch three times.
Scottsboro has now won two of the rival’s three meetings this season.
“We’re riding into the unknown with some momentum I guess,” Smith said. “It’s heartbreaking because of the uncertainty of what the future holds. The only thing we know to do is to prepare (individually), so that if they decide we can, we come back full force.”
Porter lauded his team for their effort Monday and their improved play over the past week.
“We had some hiccups and ups and downs, and when it looked like the team wasn’t together, they started playing like a team, playing good baseball. Won four of five (games) and have competed with good teams,” Porter said. “We’re a young team, and just when we start competing and figuring it out how to play the game and give good teams like Scottsboro a run for their money, this virus hits.”