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Donoho Has Good ‘Trouble’

Marcus Lawler meets Donoho teammates at home plate after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning against Pleasant Valley on Saturday. The Falcons won 17-0 to clinch a playoff berth. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Marcus Lawler meets Donoho teammates at home plate after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning against Pleasant Valley on Saturday. The Falcons won 17-0 to clinch a playoff berth. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Anniston, AL – Donoho team used to deep playoff runs explodes for 17-0 victory to earn playoff berth, heads to postseason having won six of seven games.

By Joe Medley

Lots of things can happen on a beach trip, and not much good happened on the field for Donoho. Off the field?

That’s where the season turned.

Hayes Farrell pitched a no-hitter, and Blake Sewell’s grand slam plus Marcus Lawler’s three-run homer highlighted an all-cylinders performance as the Falcons beat visiting Pleasant Valley 17-0 on Saturday.

Marcus Lawler meets Donoho teammates at home plate after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning against Pleasant Valley on Saturday. The Falcons won 17-0 to clinch a playoff berth. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Marcus Lawler meets Donoho teammates at home plate after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning against Pleasant Valley on Saturday. The Falcons won 17-0 to clinch a playoff berth. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Donoho’s Hayes Farrell deals on the way to his no-hitter against Pleasant Valley on Saturday at Donoho. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Donoho’s Hayes Farrell deals on the way to his no-hitter against Pleasant Valley on Saturday at Donoho. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Donoho (11-12) completed a sweep of the Raiders (13-9) in the series to determine which team goes to the playoffs as runner up in Class 2A, Area 13. The Falcons will go on the road to play Area 10 winner Southeastern in a best-of-3 playoff series starting Friday at 1 p.m.

Donoho, which has made at least the quarterfinals every playoff since 2019 and finished as the Class 1A runner up in 2021, has won four games in a row and six of the last seven.

“We’ve been playing really good ball the past two weeks,” 10th-year Donoho coach Steve Gendron said. “We were talking after the game. A hot team headed into the playoffs is trouble, and we’re definitely rolling right now.”

Donoho was anything but its Gendron-era norm while losing six consecutive games to reach 5-11.That included a beach trip that ended with a 9-1 loss to Thomas Worthington and an 11-3 loss to Sweetwater on March 28.

Gendron delivered his usual candor.

“The guys definitely bonded at the beach,” Gendron said. “I lost my mind on them there, on the last day I was down there, just because we weren’t really focused. We weren’t dialed in.”

The Falcons’ run of six wins in seven games launched from there. That included area series victories over Gaston and Pleasant Valley.

“At the beach, we bonded and became a family,” Farrell said. “Just growing closer together, just the seniors to the little guys and everybody having a special bond in between.

“We played some studs down at the beach, and we just had to get our act together back home, so we figured it out.”

Farrell pitched a one-hitter and shutout in Game 3 against Gaston. After Donoho won Friday’s first game with Pleasant Valley 6-4 in eight innings, Gendron went to Farrell for Saturday’s Game 2 with the option to bring Peyton Webb in relief.

Webb enjoyed a fun day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a run, and Farrell held it down on the mound.

Farrell came within one out of a perfect game before issuing two walks. He settled in and struck out Braxton Salster looking on a full count to end the game with the no-hitter.

“Normally, Peyton Webb is our number two, but Hayes has just been a strike thrower all year for us,” Gendron said. “We felt like he was going to be in the zone early to give us a good tempo, and then we knew we had a power arm behind him in Webb, in case we needed to bring him in.

“Hayes has been struggling at the dish a little bit, but he’s been electric on the mound every time we put him out there.”

Hayes Farrell slides home for a run against Pleasant Valley on Saturday. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Hayes Farrell slides home for a run against Pleasant Valley on Saturday. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Farrell operated with lots of run support Saturday. The Falcons mounted 14 hits and separated with an eight-run first inning, then five in the third and four in the fourth.

Lawler was first to go yard with his three-run shot in the first inning to make it 8-0.

“He was working middle in, and I hit it and knew it was gone,” Lawler said. “It got the team fired up.”

Sewell’s grand slam in the fourth provided the final margin.

“We just needed to add,” he said. “We didn’t want to let up on them. Yesterday, we were up on them all game, and they came back. We just didn’t want to give them a chance to come back.”

Sewell finished 3-for-4 with three runs and six RBIs, and Lawler was 2-for-2 with four runs and three RBIs.

Sam Montgomery had a double and two RBIs, and Brody Macolly had a single and two RBIs.

Donoho’s 17 runs marked a season high by six and the most since an 11-1 victory over Sand Rock on March 14.

“We’ve had to do a lot of things to shake some stuff up,” Gendron said. “We’ve probably had 20 different lineups this year, but guys have been willing to work.

“We’ve been playing really good ball the last two weeks.”

Pleasant Valley will finish its first full season under head coach Dalton Turner, who took over with 10 games left in 2023. The Raiders are 21-11 since he was promoted to interim head coach then permanent head coach.

They’ll finish their season against Cleburne County on Monday at home.

“It wasn’t our day,” Turner said. “We didn’t play to the standard that we’ve set for the program today. …

“We’re going to try to move forward. We’ve got one more on Monday, and it hurts. I hate it for our seniors, because they’ve worked so hard. This team has improved.”

Pleasant Valley coach Dalton Turner talks to the Raiders after Saturday’s game at Donoho. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Pleasant Valley coach Dalton Turner talks to the Raiders after Saturday’s game at Donoho. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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