Holtville Sylacauga baseball

Andy Anders / The Herald Holtville catcher Mikey Forney tags a runner out at home plate.

Holtville’s baseball program will face a decisive third game in the first round of the Alabama State Playoffs.

After defeating Sylacauga 6-2 in game one of a three-game series Friday, the Bulldogs fell 3-0 in game two to set up a winner-take-all scenario for Saturday.

“They took us out of our plan in game two,” Holtville head coach Scott Tubbs said. “But in game one, everything that we’ve done and that we’ve been working on all year is what we did. We just played our game.”

Baserunning and defense played featured roles for Holtville in game one.

The Bulldogs committed just one error to the Aggies’ three, and with a double-digit hit total kept Sylacauga pitcher Gregory Hardin uneasy throughout the contest. The starter balked on four occasions, two of which recorded runs for Holtville.

Holtville first baseman Mikey Forney walked to lead off the bottom of the third inning, stole second, advanced to third on a ground ball and scored on a balk to put the Bulldogs ahead 4-1.

Forney batted in Holtville’s sixth run by legging out an infield single.

“We were very aggressive at the plate. We were very aggressive on the bases, which I think surprised them a little bit,” Tubbs said. “Second game we couldn’t do that because we didn’t have any guys on.”

Todd Wilson started for the Bulldogs and tossed his second complete game in as many appearances.

The athletes behind him worked to keep Sylacauga at bay. Ingram went full extension over his shoulder to rob a potential extra-base hit in the second inning. Tanner Potts and Forney both dived to snag line drives in the corners at different points in the game.

Tubbs said such defensive efforts helped carry the day for the Bulldogs in the first game.

Game two featured a pitcher’s duel between Holtville sophomore Randy Davis and Sylacauga senior Grant Walker.

Three runs were scored across the entire game, all in one inning by the Aggies. The Bulldogs struggled to even place runners in scoring position, and their best opportunity to manufacture a run, a one-out first-inning triple by Wilson, was squandered by a subsequent strikeout and foul out.

Sam Silas would have scored on the original hit, but was caught in a rundown after leaving too early on an attempted steal.

“Their pitcher did a good job keeping us off-balance,” Tubbs said. “He threw some fastballs by us, we couldn’t get our timing down on him. That’s the best guy they’ve got, and he did a great job. He handcuffed us. So you’ve gotta tip your hat to his effort.”

Singles by Sylacauga’s Austin Mintz and Aidan Cochran in the bottom of the fifth inning gave way to a two-run double up the first-base line by Dontavius Ware, which came within inches of the outstretched glove of Cooper Mann. An RBI single followed, and the 3-0 final was set.

For game three tomorrow, Tubbs said the team that gets its offense rolling will be on to the second round.

“If we can do something at the plate, we’ll be fine, we’ll advance,” Tubbs said. “And if not, then they will. There’s nothing to hang our head about, I thought our kids played great all day today.”