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Diamond Dawgs 2nd in 28-team Bama tourney
Ford continues leading Bearden offense, batting above .700 mark

Among a 28-team field, Bearden baseball was the next-to-last team standing at the end of the annual Gulf Shores (Ala.) Tournament during Spring Break week.

Winning its first five tourney games before a 7-4 loss to Huntsville (Ala.) in the title showdown Friday, March 19, Bearden entered the week with an 8-2 record.

“We played pretty good,” BHS head coach Matt Buckner said. “We started off kinda slow in the tournament although we won early. Didn’t play great offensively, but towards the middle and back end of it we started swinging it better.”

But one Bulldog swinging a sizzling bat is senior standout shortstop Ryan Ford, who 10 games into the season is batting above .700. “Ryan Ford just continues to torch it,” Buckner said. “He’s barely got an out so far. He’s hitting silly good.”

“Really, we had about seven guys that swung it pretty good,” Buckner added about Ford, Sean Greenway, Garrett Copeland, Jonathan Elmore, Jacob Edwards, Mark Lail and Ryan Potter.

Copeland, senior southpaw starter, pitched BHS to a 4-3 victory versus Russell County (Ala.) Tuesday, March 17. A Ford home run was critical.

Potter’s 10 strikeouts led the Bulldogs to a 6-1 victory against Pinson Valley (Ala.) Wednesday, March 18.

“Copeland and Potter, those guys have been pretty good for a while,” Buckner said.

Later that day, BHS sophomore Dakota Stallings tossed a two-hitter in five innings, getting the win, as Bearden edged Lee County (Ala.) 3-2.

Hueytown (Ala.) fell to Bearden 9-4 Thursday, as junior Chase Keen was winning pitcher. “He pitched pretty well,” Buckner said.

As for overall pitching, “I’ve seen better pitching, but we pitched pretty well,” Buckner said. “I put three or fourl guys out there who pitched for the first time in a varsity game.”

In the Bulldogs 9-3 semifinal win versus Oak Mountain (Ala.) Friday, March 20, starter Anson Quillen pitched his first-ever varsity game and won after working four innings.

Reliever Corey Phillips, also working in his first-ever varsity pitching outing, hurled the final three. They combined to allow just six hits.

“They did O-K,” Buckner said.

In the championship game Friday, Huntsville’s six-run second inning “pretty much did us in,” Buckner said. Junior Danny Billinson, who also pitching in his first-ever varsity game, “came in in the fifth and pitched the fifth, sixth and seventh and only gave up one run. He did a good job.”

Over the six-game stretch, “I thought we played pretty good defense,” Buckner said. “To me that was a big key. … That was probably the biggest plus. Ford and Greenway [second baseman] were really good in the middle, they turned a good bit of double plays this week.

“And we had good catching all week, Lail and Drew Pasilas did great.”


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