Phil Campbell Bobcats see repeat hopes dashed
The Phil Campbell Bobcats’ hopes of repeating as Class 3A champions were dashed in an 8-4 game three loss to the Piedmont Bulldogs Wednesday. Piedmont, 35-5, managed one hit in a 10-0 game one shutout but rebounded with 15 hits in a 16-9 game two win and 10 hits in the game three win.
Phil Campbell, 30-9, jumped on Piedmont right off the bat in game three, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning when Mason Swinney roped an RBI-double into center field, scoring Bryant Anthony.
Swinney came around to score on a single by Kyle Pace to give the Bobcats a 2-0 lead.
The Bulldogs battled back to tie the game in the top of the second inning.
Phil Campbell reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third inning when Bryant Hyde placed a ball perfectly into right field for an RBI-single scoring Swinney, who reached on a lead–off walk, giving the Bobcats a 3-2 lead.
Piedmont tied the game again in the top of the fifth inning on a single into left field.
The Bulldogs took their first lead when a seemingly routine ground ball to second base took a wild hop into right field, giving Piedmont a 4-3.
The baseball gods returned the favor to the Bobcats in the bottom of the fifth, when a soft infield hit ricocheted off the pitcher’s mound to give Phil Campbell runners on first and second with one out – but the Bobcats couldn’t move the runners around, leaving two runners on base for the second consecutive inning.
Piedmont blew the game wide open in the top of the sixth, scoring four runs to take an 8-3 lead.
An RBI-triple by Swinney cut the Bulldog lead to 8-4 scoring Barnwell, but that was all the Bobcats could muster.
Nothing that happened in game three can overshadow the performance of Cam Habada the night before.
The junior lefty pitched a complete game, one–hit shutout in game one, as the Bobcats run-ruled Piedmont 10-0. Even more impressive, Habada made 58 pitches to get the win.
This presented Phil Campbell Coach Jonathan Raper with a unique option: Go with his usual game two pitcher in Cole Pace or the unorthodox choice of starting Habada in game two and hoping he could continue with his momentum.
Raper went with Habada, who continued his outstanding night, throwing four pitches in the first inning, quickly retiring the top of the Piedmont lineup.
The Bobcats had already built up a 3-0 lead in the top half of the inning, and they increased their lead to 5-0 in the top of the second inning.
Piedmont battled back in the bottom of the second inning, scoring three runs to cut Phil Campbell’s lead to 5-3. Habada quickly retired the Bulldogs in the third inning as well.
Phil Campbell extended the lead to 6-3 in the top of the fourth inning on a Kyle Pace single, scoring Swinney.
The fatigue began to set in for Habada in the bottom of the fourth inning, giving a lead–off walk and single before a Piedmont home run to right field.
After Habada’s night was done, the Bulldogs added four more runs in the inning to extend Piedmont’s lead to 10-6. The Bulldogs added two more in the fifth to extend their lead to 12-6.
In game two, Bryant Hyde had three hits, including a double, and four RBIs. Swinney scored three runs, and Sage Raper scored two runs.
In game one, Kyle Pace had two hits, including a double, and five RBIs. Bryant Hyde had a solo home run. Habada had a hit and two RBIs. Anthony had two hits and scored three runs. Sage Raper had a hit and scored two runs.
The Bobcats return a bevy of juniors and lose one player to graduation. Swinney, the team’s lone senior, has signed a baseball scholarship to the University of Alabama.