Sat, Dec 16, 2017 12:40 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
Cards rally past Belfry in season opener

INEZ — Coach Mike Hall’s Sheldon Clark Cardinals showed their come-from-behind ability on opening day Tuesday at Frank Horn Field as they rallied for three runs in the sixth to best the Belfry Pirates 4-2.

Hall’s 2003 Cards are touted as one of the best squads in the 15th Region this diamond season, but waiting to take the lead in the late innings isn’t quite what Hall would like to see in every contest this year.

Belfry grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the second as catcher Joey Ramey walked and scored on first baseman Matt Marcum’s double. Marcum scored on Ryan Chapman’s single off Cardinal starter Robert Howell as the Pirates jumped out to a 2-0 advantage.

Belfry starter Zane Smith kept the Cardinal bats in check allowing only a single unearned run in the bottom of the third. Dallas Jude reached on a error and scored the Cardinal lone run, until Smith ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth.

Cardinal shortstop Anthony Potter cracked his second hit of the game as he drove Smith’s 2-2 pitch over the left center field fence to tie the contest at 2-2 to begin the Cards sixth inning rally.

Catcher Jamie Jarrett followed Potter with a triple to center and scored the go ahead run on first baseman Steven Howell’s sac fly to center for a 3-2 lead. Third baseman Brandon May then reached on a error, stole second and scored the Cards insurance run on left fielder Phillip Lawson’s misplayed grounder at short as the Cards took a 4-2 margin.

Howell showed why he is one of the top pitchers in the region as he took care of the Belfry bats in the top of the seventh to preserve the two run comeback victory.

“Robert gave a workhorse effort on the mound and allowed us to finally come around and produce some runs for him in the late innings,” said Hall. “I hope we don’t have to rally late in every game, but that is a mark of an experienced team. Our guys have been together for three years and we have several kids that can hit, so they have been through the wars and should be able to rise above every obstacle this season, hopefully.”

Howell went the distance for the complete game win as he gave up only two runs, both earned, scattered six hits, fanned 10 batters and walked only two in seven strong innings of work on the hill. The Cards’ four runs came on only four hits. Potter led the Cardinals with a single and a solo homer, Jarrett swatted a triple in the three run sixth and Howell helped himself with a line drive single in the fourth.

Marcum led the Pirate attack with a double and a single as Chapman, Tyler Bostic, David Curry and Gary Childers cracked a single each.

The Cardinals return to the diamond tomorrow, Saturday, as they hit the trail to Shelby Valley for a high noon showdown and will finish off the day with a stop off at Pikeville at 4 p.m.

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