OXFORD — Mobile Christian won a slugfest over Etowah in Game 1 of the Class 4A state championship series Tuesday at Choccolocco Park.
The Leopards overcame a 5-0 and 7-3 deficits to earn a walk-off 9-8 victory on a balk by Etowah pitcher Jameson Scissum.
"I'll tell you what -- our guys battled," Etowah coach Blake Bone said. "I couldn't be more proud of a group of guys that just competed their butts off tonight. And I hate it for them to lose a game like that. You know, but baseball is a funny game."
Alex Bennett drove in the tying run for Mobile Christian (29-4) with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
Bennett got a second chance after a pop-up was dropped in foul territory by Blue Devils first baseman Trace Thompson.
"Hats off to our our boys for not giving up," Mobile Christian coach Talley Haines said. "They kept having good at-bats. It was just a crazy game."
Game 2 will be played at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Jacksonville State. A third "if necessary game" will be played if Etowah wins.
Charlie Keller, a Mississippi State signee, hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning for Mobile Christian. Zane Stokes added a solo home run to knock out Etowah pitcher Caleb Freeman.
Keller's home run sparked the comeback.
"Throughout this whole season, I realized our hitting is the most contagious thing out there," Keller said. "When I did that, I really was more excited for what was about to happen. We still were down, but I knew that was about to get us going."
Thompson was 3-for-3 with three doubles and two RBIs for Etowah (28-13). Scissum added a triple and an RBI and leadoff hitter Caleb Smith had two bunt singles.
Freeman allowed six earned runs on five hits in 4 ⅔ innings. He walked four hitters and struck out six.
Bone said the decision to pitch Freeman in Game 1, rather than in Game 2, as he has in past series, came down to matchup.
"He gave us a great chance to win today," Bone said. "... A lot of things kind of went into that decision. He was he was outstanding today. He just got a little tired. We knew that they are going to score their runs You try to limit the home runs and, you know, that's what they've been doing all year."
Left-hander Cale O'Bryant finished the fifth and pitched the sixth inning for the Blue Devils.
Kelly Lanier allowed eight runs on 11 hits in seven innings. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. He picked up the win.
Scissum, who is normally the Game 1 pitcher, threw 22 pitches in relief. As he was under 25 pitches, he is still eligible to pitch and start tomorrow.
The Etowah players were ready to flush the game and move on.
"Playing baseball. It's tough game," Freeman said. "I believe in my guys more than anybody out there. We know what we have to do. If we do everything right, we'll be victorious."
Contact Ehsan Kassim at 256-300-5313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Ehsan_Kassim.
This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Mobile Christian baseball beats Etowah in Class 4A state series Game 1