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Diamond ’Dawgs sweep field in Alabama

The Bearden Bulldogs baseball team left its mark in Gulf Shores, Ala., by winning all four of its games in the Nike Tournament March 17-20.

Led by senior Bryant Walker’s two home runs, Bearden (7-1 entering the week) won the tournament opener against Thompson (Ala.) 9-3, Monday, March 17.

“We really played well,” Bearden head coach Matt Buckner said. “That was probably the best game we played all week.”

Senior Josh Hullett got the win on the mound in a complete game effort.

“Josh Hullett really pitched a good ballgame,” Buckner said. “I was really pleased with that because he didn’t have a good outing in his first outing against Lenoir City. I was happy to see him come back and have a really good outing.”

Bearden won its second game of the week as Hunter Daniel got the win in a complete game effort on the mound as the Bulldogs beat Gardendale (Ala.) 6-4 Tuesday, March 18.

“[Daniel] didn’t have his absolute best stuff, but he really battled and really pitched his guts out,” Buckner said. “He did a great job of competing and did a good job.”

Bearden took a 6-1 lead into the seventh inning, but a last-inning Gardendale rally narrowed the deficit.

In the seventh, a Gardendale player hit a double in the gap and Bearden fired a relay throw to shortstop Ryan Ford about 40 steps into the outfield. Ford gunned-down the runner at home to get the first out of the inning.

“It was an absolute big-time play,” Buckner said. “He has a big arm and he showed it out. That was their first out and it could have quite possibly saved the ballgame for us.”

Ford not only played well against Gardendale, but the junior shined all week.

“Ryan Ford was fantastic all week in everything he did,” Buckner said. “He hit the ball fantastic, played great defense and he is really playing well for us.” Dawson Halliday and Jonathan Byrd doubled.

After being rained out Wednesday, the Bulldogs swept a doubleheader Thursday, March 20, to close out the tournament perfect.

In the first game, Bearden beat Pinson Valley (Ala.) 8-7 in eight innings thanks to a huge rally.

Taylor Gouffon started the game on the mound and pitched five innings. Ryan Potter pitched the sixth. Junior Garrett Copeland entered in the seventh with BHS trailing 7-1 and earned the win in two innings of work.

After not pitching at all last season because of a shoulder injury, Copeland seems to have recovered his form that enabled him to go 8-1 as a freshman in 2006.

“In his first outing it didn’t look like he had the velocity, but he seems to have improved in this outing because he really threw well,” Buckner said.

The Bulldogs battled back and tied the game 7-7 in the seventh before scoring the winning run in the eighth.

“It was a really good win because we were really done,” Buckner said. “We didn’t give up and really battled and I was really proud of my team for that. In the past I think that team would have folded and we didn’t, we really hung in there.”

Bearden had 10 base hits, but the only extra base hit was a Halliday double.

The Bulldogs also won the second game, 5-3 in 10 innings, against Robertsdale, Ala.

“Andy Fennell pitched eight strong innings,” Buckner said about the senior. Reliever Potter pitched the ninth and 10th innings in relief and claimed the victory.

Offensively for Bearden, Ford had a double and a single, Halliday a triple and Walker two doubles.

“We faced some really good pitchers throughout the week,” Buckner said. “I felt like we played some pretty good competition.”


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