Chelsea downs Oak Mountain and Russell County, now 2-2

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

CHELSEA – Following two losses to Vestavia Hills by a combined four runs to open the season, the Chelsea Hornets bounced back in a big way on Saturday, Feb. 20.

Taking on Class 7A Oak Mountain in a rivalry battle and Class 6A power Russell County, the Hornets picked up wins of 13-4 and 4-3, respectively, to win their first two games of the season and even their record at 2-2.

Chelsea won both games in different fashion, but the start was the same for both.

In the first game against the rival Eagles, Chelsea was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first before coming back to strike first with three runs in the bottom half of the inning.

With two outs in the inning, Chelsea strung together a single and a walk from Jackson Webster and Cole Kennedy, respectively. That was followed by back-to-back singles from Evan Jones and Connor Ball.

Jones drove home one run, while Ball drove home two, which put the Hornets in front 3-0 at the end of one.

Oak Mountain, however, stormed from behind in the top of the third with a four-run inning.

The Eagles led off the inning with a single from Mitchell Pierce, which was followed by a double from Davis Gillespie to put runners on second and third.

An error allowed Pierce to score, before a sac fly brought home Gillespie two batters later. With two outs on the board and down by one, Oak Mountain strung together back-to-back RBI singles from Maddox Macrory and Jake Derecki to take a 4-3 lead.

That lead held strong until the bottom of the fifth inning.

Chelsea’s six-run inning was kickstarted by a double from Jones followed by an RBI single from Ball to tie the game. That, however, was just the beginning.

Following a one-out walk to Kaden Weldon, Andrew Floyd picked up an RBI single to put Chelsea in front 5-4.

Oak Mountain looked like it might limit the damage after recording the inning’s second out, but an error on a ground ball from Adam Reaves brought home another run, before Webster added the dagger.

He stepped to the plate and drilled a home run over the left-field wall to complete the six-run inning with Chelsea in front 9-4.

Chelsea added four more in the bottom of the sixth all on walks, errors or a hit batter.

The Hornets were led by Ball, who finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Webster finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored, while Floyd added two RBIs on a 1-for-2 performance.

Brock Hill got the start and went 3 1/3 innings allowing seven hits and four runs with three strikeouts. Campbell McCluney finished the game and allowed one hit while striking out three in his time on the mound.

Chelsea got off to a similar start against Russell County in the second game of the doubleheader day thanks to three runs in the bottom of the first inning.

After Russell County scored in the top of the first, the Hornets put together back-to-back singles in the bottom half of the inning from Reaves and Webster before a two-RBI double from Kennedy gave them the lead. An error shortly after allowed Kennedy to score, which became costly for Russell County at the end of the game.

The Warriors answered right back in the top of the second with two runs to immediately tie the game back up at three apiece.

The rest of the game was quiet from an offensive standpoint, but Chelsea got the break it needed in the bottom of the fourth.

Following a walk and single from Christian Kalaher and Tucker Garrett, respectively, two outs were recorded. But during the second out, Garrett advanced to third on a wild pitch.

During Kennedy’s next at bat, another wild pitch allowed Garrett to sprint home for what became the game-winning run in a 4-3 win for the Hornets.

A big reason Chelsea was able to close out the win was the pitching of Ball on the mound.

He went the distance and struck out eight while allowing just two hits and four walks. Of the three runs that scored, only one was earned.

At the plate, Kennedy went 1-for-1 with two walks, two RBIs and one run scored. Reaves finished 2-for-4 with a run scored.