The Section baseball team did not let one loss become two.
Because of that, Section’s season lives on.
The Lions bounced back from a Game 1 loss to win the final two games of their Class 2A first-round best-of-three playoff series with Hatton in convincing fashion and advance to Round 2.
Section clinched the series win with a mercy-rule shortened 12-2 victory over the Hornets on Tuesday afternoon at SHS. That win came less than 24 hours after scoring a season-high 25 runs in a Game 2 win, a strong response to a 12-4 Game 1 loss earlier on Monday.
“We didn’t think we should’ve lost that first game and we just knew we had to do what we needed to win (the series),” said Section senior shortstop/pitcher Wiley McCutchen.
Section (11-10) plays a second-round series at No. 7-ranked Westbrook Christian (17-12) in Rainbow City that begins Friday at 4:30 p.m. with a Games 1 and 2. Game 3, if needed, would be played Saturday at 1 p.m.
It’s the eighth straight season Section has advanced to the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
“It’s big for these guys,” said first-year Section head coach Trey Gibson. “Hopefully we can build on it (in the second round).”
McCutchen gave Section an early boost with his first career home run.
“I’ve never known what a home run felt like until know,” he said. “The first one of my life. It’s a great feeling.”
After Hatton (9-19) grabbed a brief 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning, Section took command. The Lions scored four runs in bottom of the third and followed that with six runs in the fourth. Cole Woods delivered the mercy-rule invoking RBI single in the fifth.
Woods finished 4-for-4 with three RBIs while Blake Henry had two hits and three RBIs. McCutchen and Trevier Porter both finished 2-for-4 with an RBI while Jonathan Carroll had a two-run double and Drake McCutchen had an RBI single.
Taylor Payne pitched 4 2/3 innings and got the win on the mound. He started Game 2, but after Section scored eight runs in the first inning, he was able to be held over to pitch Game 3.
“That situation worked out perfectly for us,” Gibson said.
Payne didn’t allow an earned run while giving up just three hits and recording eight strikeouts. Jacob Gentry recorded the final out of the top of the fifth but didn’t have to go back out to the mound after the Lions ended the game in the bottom of the inning.
“Game 1 we struggled,” Gibson said. “We just persevered through it, just like we’ve been doing all year. These guys, they just fight and claw and get it done.”
Game 2 | Section 25, Hatton 4 — The Lions posted a season-high run total to force a Game 3.
Section scored eight runs in the top of the first inning, one in the second, 11 in the fourth and five in the fifth. Section had 18 hits and eight different Lions had at least two RBIs.
Payne and Carroll had three hits and three RBIs each for the Lions while Gentry and Drake McCutchen had three hits and two RBIs apiece. Porter and Henry totaled two hits and two RBIs each while Woods had one hit and three RBIs and Layne White had one hit and two RBIs.
Wiley McCutchen pitched 4 1/3 innings in relief and got the win. He recorded seven strikeouts while allowing just two hits.
Game 1 | Hatton 12, Section 4 — The Hornets took advantage of eight hits and seven Section errors to win the series opener. Hatton led 3-2 after four innings before scoring nine runs over the final three innings.
Gentry went 4-for-4 with two RBIs for the Section while Woods and Carroll both went 2-for-4. Payne and White added one hit each and Drake McCutchen drove in a run.