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Alexandria pitcher Andrew Allen and third baseman Evan Snow celebrate after Allen gets the game-clinching strikeout.
Alexandria pitcher Andrew Allen and third baseman Evan Snow celebrate after Allen gets the game-clinching strikeout.

Alexandria, AL – Alexandria’s Allen prevails in Game 1 of Class 5A title series after both pitchers fire three-hitters.

By Joe Medley

Alexandria’s winning formula for Monday’s Game 1 of the Class 5A title series was simple … lots of Andrew Allen and just enough aggressive base running.

Allen matched the three-hitter pitched by Mobile Christian’s Zach McKinion, and Ty Brown took two bases on a sacrifice fly to produce the winning run as Alexandria prevailed 2-1 on Jacksonville State University’s Rudy Abbott Field.

Game 2 of the best-of-3 series is Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Rudy Abbott Field, and the if-necessary Game 3 would immediately follow it.

Alexandria seeks its first state title in baseball, and both teams made short work of Game 1.

Alexandria pitcher Andrew Allen and third baseman Evan Snow celebrate after Allen gets the game-clinching strikeout.
Alexandria pitcher Andrew Allen and third baseman Evan Snow celebrate after Allen gets the game-clinching strikeout.

“How long did that game last?” Alexandria coach Zac Welch said. “I feel like we played that thing in about 45 minutes.

“Their guy threw a lot of strikes. Our guy threw a lot of strikes, and I feel like defense played well behind.”

Allen settled down after a shaky first inning that saw a walk and a hit batsman in the first four batters. He struck out the final two batters of the inning, the first two of his 11 strikeouts, and fanned the final two in a quick top of the seventh inning.

At the end of the game, the senior and Arkansas State signee worked with pace while lighting up the strike zone.

“It kind of dawned on me towards the end that that’s going to be the last inning I’m ever going to throw in high school,” he said. “I just wanted to make it the best one I had for me and everybody involved.”

Mobile Christian coach Jason Smith lauded Allen’s control and movement.

“He really moved his fastball in and out,” Smith said. “He controlled it well, and he threw his breaking ball just enough to keep us off balance.

“Really, we had a couple of times, even in the first inning, we had chances to maybe scratch across a run or two, and they played good defense, and he buckled down and made the pitches when he needed to.”

The Valley Cubs needed every base runner Allen could spare them because McKinion also pitched a three-hitter, with one strikeout.

While Allen battled back from a three-week, midseason absence with a knee injury, McKinion performed while still battling the lingering effects of a triceps injury that caused him to rest in the Leopards’ semifinal series.

“He told me in the third inning that he wasn’t feeling good, and I went and got one of our relievers and told him to get down in the pen and get ready,” Smith said. “He (McKinion) said, ‘Just give me one more (inning).’

“After he came off, every inning, he was that much more fired up: ‘Give me one more. Give me one more.’ He truly left it all on the field.”

As well as both pitchers performed, aggression on the base paths won the game for Alexandria … notable after similar aggression led to two outs at the plate in the Valley Cubs’ 3-2 loss to Oxford in a classic, 11-inning Calhoun County final.

With Alexandria up 1-0 in the bottom of the second, McKinion hit Ty Brown to lead off. Nic Thompson’s one-out single gave the Valley Cubs runners at first and second ahead of Brodie Slaton’s deep pop to left-center field.

Brown tagged and beat a throw to third base, and Thompson forced a rundown between first and second. When Mobile Christian committed to getting Thompson out, Brown took off for home and scored.

“We have gave away some outs through the year, but I think our timing was right on the play that we ran,” Welch said. “I tell you, we’ve been in a lot of first-and-third situations, and that one was ran the way wanted to, and that really made the difference.”

Photo gallery by Joe Medley

Alexandria warms up for Game 1 on Monday on Rudy Abbott Field.
Alexandria, pregame before playing Mobile Christian in Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria assistant coach Trey Phillips at work as head coach Zac Welch makes the rounds before Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria fans fill the stands at Rudy Abbott Field for Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria principal Jason Deason after throwing out the first pitch before Monday’s Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria players and coaches during the National Anthem for Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria pitcher Andrew Allen and assistant coach Trey Phillips prior to Allen taking the mound for Monday’s Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria’s Ian Cartwright (right) and Nic Thompson celebrated after a third out in the second inning of Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria’s Brodie Slaton hits the sacrifice fly ball that wound up producing the winning run in Monday’s Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria’s Ty Brown is jubilant after scoring a run in the second inning of Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria’s Ty Brown does the customary Nerf goal dunk in the dugout after scoring a run in the second inning of Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria first baseman Samuel Henegar makes a flip for an out during Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria pitcher Andrew Allen deals during Monday’s Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria’s Brodie Slaton heads to first base after being hit by a pitch during Monday’s Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria pitcher Andrew Allen and catcher Aiden Brunner confer during Monday’s Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria second baseman Nic Thompson sets to throw to first baseman Samuel Henegar for an out during Monday’s Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.
Alexandria’s Aiden Brunner watches a foul ball during Monday’s Game 1 of the Class 5A title series.

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