Russellville baseball playoff run ends with quarterfinal loss at Sardis

The quest for a third-straight AHSAA Class 5A baseball state championship came to an end for the Russellville Golden Tigers with a third-round series loss to the Sardis Lions.
RHS traveled to Sardis on May 5 and lost game one of the best-of-three series by a 6-4 score.

Game two went the way of the Lions by a 4-0 total ending the successful season of the Golden Tigers. Russellville finished the year with a 22-15 record while Sardis (28-6) advances to the semifinals and a matchup with Boaz.

The duo of Luke Weems and Blaze Gerhart led the way to victory for Sardis both on the mound and in the batter’s box. The hard-throwing Weems started the series opener for the Lions and pitched a complete-game allowing three earned runs and eight hits.

The tall right-handed senior struck out seven and walked two. Weems’ fifth-inning two-run home run broke a 2-2 tie. Later, Gerhard followed with a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh off starter Logan White after Russellville battled back to tie the score on an RBI double from Brandt Cummings and an RBI single by Brodie Vandiver in the top half of the final inning.

White went the distance on the mound for RHS allowing five earned runs. The senior lefty struck out three and issued no walks. Russellville got two RBI’s from Vandiver and one each from Cummings and Brayden Spurgeon. Cayden Johns and Vandiver had two hits each and they were joined in the hit column by Cummings, Banks Langston, Shayden Romans and White.

Game two saw Sardis jump out to a 2-0 first inning advantage with the help of back-to-back RBI singles off the bats of Weems and Gerhart. An hour-long delay came in the top of the sixth when two of six light poles lost power. The delay did not look to phase starting pitcher Gerhart who stayed in the contest to finish the complete-game shutout.

The right-hander struck out 15 over seven innings, including all three RHS batters in the seventh, and allowed three hits and one walk during the win.Russellville starting pitcher Banks Langston went five innings and was relieved by Spurgeon after the delay.

Langston had two of Russellville’s hits with Neyland Baker getting the other. Gerhart drove-in the final two runs of the series on a double. Over the two games, Gerhart and Weems went a combined 7-for-14 at the plate with two home runs and eight RBIs.

Even though the Golden Tigers came short of winning it all this season, RHS head coach Jess Smith is proud of his group. His message to his squad during a team meeting, held in the outfield at Sardis soon after the final out, was about more than wins and losses on the diamond.

“Being a champion in life is not always holding up the blue map. Having a championship process and striving to be great every single day in everything you do, that’s what makes you a champion and these kids did that,” Smith said. “I hate it that it fell short for them, but they’re champions in my eyes.”

 

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