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Alexandria’s Ty Brown watches his two-run home run in the second inning of Game 3 of Alexandria’s Class 5A quarterfinal series at Sardis on Thursday. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Alexandria’s Ty Brown watches his two-run home run in the second inning of Game 3 of Alexandria’s Class 5A quarterfinal series at Sardis on Thursday. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Calhoun County, AL – Top-ranked Alexandria brings the fireworks, baseball and explosive, to Game 3 victory at Sardis. Springville up next in semifinals. (Includes photo gallery)

By Joe Medley

SARDIS — Alexandria brought fireworks to Thursday’s Game 3 of the Valley Cubs’ quarterfinal series at Sardis … the explosive and baseball kinds.

Bray Goode’s complete-game shutout, Brodie Slaton’s grand slam and Ty Brown’s two-run home run powered top-ranked Alexandria to a 7-0 victory over the second-ranked Lions.

The victory clinched Alexandria’s first semifinal berth since 2015. The Valley Cubs will play host to Springville starting Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.

Goode’s final strikeout of the game touched off a celebration that including fireworks shot off from behind the Valley Cubs’ bus, parked behind Alexandria fans that lined the third-base-side fence. The fireworks show came in response to fireworks Sardis fans shot off after the Lions won Wednesday’s Game 2.

The fireworks came courtesy of 2001 Alexandria player Jon Everly and Paul Strain and added the perfect touch to a postgame celebration that included Alexandria coach Zac Welch’s tumble into the team huddle and dousing from players.

Brown said he got a hint that Alexandria faithful would bring fireworks when he received a text from his mom Thursday morning.

“It was pretty dang cool,” Brown said. “I told them (his teammates) after Game 2, I said, ‘There’s three games for a reason. They call it a three-game series, not a two-game series.’

“I guess they thought they had us beat after they won the second game.”

Brown started the on-field fireworks with his two-run home run to center field in the second inning. He credited a two-strike approach … “shorten up, put it in play and let the pitcher’s velocity handle it.”

Brown said he was glad to repay his team.

“I’ve been getting carried by team,” he said. “The whole beginning of the season until spring break, I couldn’t do nothing. I could not hit a beach ball if you threw it to me.

“For them to stick with me to believe in me, it was nice.”

Slaton’s grand slam, the first home run of his varsity career, highlighted Alexandria’s five-run fourth inning. It came on a rare occasion for Alexandria’s lead-off hitter and shortstop to come to the plate with bases loaded.

He called watching the ball fly over the fence surreal.

“I blacked out a little bit, I guess,” he said. “I don’t really remember it. It was special.”

It was more than enough run support for Goode, who took full advantage of his chance to show what can happen if an opponent gets through Game 1 starter Andrew Allen or Game 2 starter Tripp Patterson.

Goode spread out six hits and struck out 10 batters, including Blaze Gerhart to end the game with bases loaded. Goode actually struck out the last three batters he faced, but a dropped third strike allowed Landon Carroll to reach base ahead of Gerhart.

“All glory to God,” Goode said. “I just so thankful that He gave me the ability to play this sport.

“I really felt like my team came out here and set the mood with those home runs, and I just came in there and just did what I need to do.”

Goode bagged arguably the biggest victory of a career that saw him fight through tendinitis in his left (pitching) arm related to a major growth spurt.

It took Goode “about a year and a half” to be able to pitch without elbow pain, Alexandria coach Zac Welch said.

“Just to watch him grown from a young kid, he had some health trouble from early on,” Welch said. “He’s had arm trouble along the way. He’s persevered through so much.

“He’s one of the strongest Christian-based players we have on the team, and I know his faith really got him through the tough times. It’s just so fulfilling to see God’s work through him and to watch him do what he just did.”

That Alexandria came out in the good with Goode after Sardis survived a typically strong performance from Patterson on Wednesday just boosted the Valley Cubs’ belief in its pitching depth.

“I don’t know about their dugout over there coming into this game, but when we left out of here last night, we had to deal with the fact that we lost a game,” Welch said. “By the time we made it to about Gadsden, we realized what we had coming down the line in having Goode, and (Brayden) Thacker, and (Justin) Campbell and (Ian) Cartwright and some arms.

“We felt good when we showed up today. Goode was the only one we needed, but the fact that we had him ready to go was comforting. I know the bus ride up here was a lot of fun with all of the guys. We knew what we had.”

The Valley Cubs, known more as a small-ball team, also gained confidence with two home runs. Welch calls is “Gorilla ball,” the kind he most enjoyed when the Alexandria grad and former University of Alabama player grew up watching LSU’s 1997 masher lineup.

“I like some home runs,” Welch said. “I got on the team a little bit. You need to score in every inning, one or two, but I’ll take a grand slam every once in a while, too.

“That was some ’97 LSU days, right there.”

It was all part of a night of fireworks that sent Alexandria on to the semifinals.

“Oh my gosh,” Goode said. “I wasn’t expecting that to happen. I saw them doing it yesterday, when they won Game 2, and it was special to see us do it.”

Photo gallery by Joe Medley

Alexandria’s Ty Brown watches his two-run home run in the second inning of Game 3 of Alexandria’s Class 5A quarterfinal series at Sardis on Thursday. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Alexandria’s Ty Brown watches his two-run home run in the second inning of Game 3 of Alexandria’s Class 5A quarterfinal series at Sardis on Thursday. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Ty Brown gets congratulations from Alexandria assistant coach Jake Kilgo after his two-run home run in the second inning of Game 3 of the Valley Cubs’ Class 5A quarterfinal series at Sardis. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Alexandria’s Brodie Slaton watches the flight of his grand slam in Game 3 of the Valley Cubs’ Class 5A quarterfinals series at Sardis on Thursday. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Alexandria assistant coach Jake Kilgo congratulates Brodie Slaton after Slaton hit a grand slam against Sardis in Thursday’s Game 3 of their Class 5A quarterfinal series. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Alexandria pitcher Bray Goode follows through Thursday on the way to a complete-game victory at Sardis in the decisive Game 3 of their quarterfinal series.
Alexandria pitcher Bray Goode has a moment in the dugout after striking out a Sardis batter in Thursday’s Game 3 of their Class 5A quarterfinals series. Shown the picture after the game, he said he was ‘probably praying.’
Alexandria’s Ian Cartwright watches his hit during Thursday’s Game 3 of the Valley Cubs’ Class 5A quarterfinals series at Sardis.
Evan Snow watches his hit during Thursday’s Game 3 of the Valley Cubs’ Class 5A quarterfinals series at Sardis.
Alexandria’s Aiden Brunner watches his hit during Thursday’s Game 3 of the Valley Cubs’ Class 5A quarterfinals series at Sardis.

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