Six sounds so Sweet: Edgewood baseball secures sixth straight state titlePublished 10:25pm Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Edgewood Academy’s starting pitchers threw six combined innings in the AISA Class A state championship series.
But the five that senior Taylor Hawthorne pitched didn’t start either game, but rather finished them, earning two saves to clinch the Wildcats’ sixth consecutive AISA state title in the 3-2 and 18-8 victories at Paterson Field in Montgomery.
In Game 1, starter Chase Laney tossed into the sixth inning with a 3-2 lead before giving way to Hawthorne with two runners on base. Edgewood burned through four pitchers, with all four throwing in the second inning of Game 2, before the Jacksonville State University signee pitched three innings for the save.
“What do you say about Taylor Hawthorne?” EA head coach Bobby Carr said. “If there’s a better player in the state of Alabama, I have yet to see him.
“Taylor’s a bulldog. Whoever drafts him is going to get a special player. The sky’s the limit for him. He wants the ball, he’s a competitor. In football, same thing, he was our quarterback. He just put our team on his back in the state championship game in football. He did the same thing in this series. He’s a tremendous competitor and somebody’s going to get a great player and an even better person on down the road.”
With Laney and sophomore starter Christian Smith picking up two wins apiece in the first two playoff series, Hawthorne said he didn’t expect to pitch.
“Marengo is a great team,” Hawthorne said. “They put the bat on the ball and made things happen. I guess I was just fortunate enough to get in there to pitch my last innings.”
The Longhorns scored seven runs on just four hits, in the second of Game 2 to grab a 7-3 advantage, chasing Smith, relievers Hunter Elliott and Caleb Sullivan in the process. Carr then turned to freshman Jackson Tate.
“We were just trying to find somebody that could throw strikes and stop the bleeding,” Carr said.
Before the championship series, Tate had one varsity pitching appearance this season.
“He came to the mound and pointed at me (in centerfield), and I had to point at myself to make sure he was right,” Tate said. “It was scary at first, but I got through it. Just throw strikes, let them put it in play and let the defense work.”
The freshman navigated through 2.2 innings, giving up just one run on three hits. After Tate got out of the second, the Wildcats’ offense retook control of the game and began cashing in on the 18 total free bases Marengo handed them.
Keith Johnson and W.B. Hill led of the third with walks. Senior Hunter Glenn pelted a fly over Hayden Hall’s head to cut Marengo’s lead to 7-5. Two batters later, Glenn scored off Tate’s hit to pull EA within one. Next batter, junior David Cayton brought two runs in to give the Wildcats the final lead change at 8-7.
“You can’t be a great champion without overcoming adversity,” Carr said. “That’s what I reminded them of when they went up on us 7-3. And we come right back and score seven the bottom half. That’s just what champions do, they always find a way.”
In Game 1, Marengo took the early 2-0 advantage off Weldon Aydelott’s two-run single in the third. Edgewood answered in the fourth, scoring three runs, highlighted by Jolan Stieringer’s two-run, two-out double, giving EA the final 3-2 score.
While the Wildcats trailed in both contests, Hawthorne said him and his teammates were ready to overcome.
“We’ve faced through adversity throughout the whole year. We came in and coach gave us a talk, told us that we’re going to keep swinging it, and get the runs back up on the board.”
Carr credited his seniors for the team’s sixth straight title.
“A lot of folks didn’t expect us to do as well as we did because we lost a lot of great kids (last year),” Carr said. “You know what, our seniors understood what it takes to be a champion.”