Cleburne County came to Roanoke Thursday as the No. 6 team in the state in Class 4A and having beaten Handley 10-4 in the opening game of their area series last Tuesday.
None of that seemed to matter to the Handley Tigers, however, as they jumped all over Heflin for wins of 20-3 and 11-0 to get a crucial series victory over their area foes.
In game one on Thursday Handley took advantage of a slew of free base runners as Cleburne County pitchers combined to issue six walks and hit eight Handley batters.
Handley scored eight runs in the first inning on just two hits as they took four free passes, had two batters plunked and were the beneficiaries of an error also.
Those two hits were both two-run doubles off the bats of Ty Fetner and Connor Bickers.
Handley then came to bat in the third inning leading 8-3 and sent 15 hitters to the plate in a 10-run outburst that put the game well out of reach.
Handley had eight hits, three hit batters and a walk in the inning. Casen Cummings hit a three-run triple, and Handley also got RBI hits from Koye White, Fetner and Garrett Calhoun to pad their lead.
Leadoff man Tae Meadows went 3-for-5 and scored three runs. Fetner finished 3-for-3 with a double and four RBI, Calhoun was 2-for-2 with three RBI, and Bickers and White drove in two runs apiece.
Cole Arnett was the starting pitcher gifted with all that offense, and he picked up the win after allowing three runs on six hits in four innings.
The good times rolled right into the second game Thursday as Handley scored two in the first, three in the second and six more in the third to build an 11-0 lead.
Calhoun and Wylie Green had two hits apiece. Calhoun drove in three runs while Green and Bickers drove home two each.
Jesse Baldwin made sure those runs held up with a solid four-inning outing in which he allowed no runs on two hits and a walk and struck out four.
Handley is now 9-8 overall and 2-1 in area play. With just three more area games remaining (against Munford Tuesday and Thursday of next week) having that 2-1 edge over Cleburne County could prove critical to Handley’s playoff hopes.
Cleburne County 10, Handley 4
Tae Meadows hit a solo home run, and Garrett Calhoun went 3-for-3 at the plate for Handley, but Cleburne County scored eight runs over the final two innings to break open a close game and win it 10-4.
Calhoun was retired just once the entire series. He went 7-for-8 with three walks and a hit-by-pitch and finished with seven RBI in the three games.