Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa junior shortstop Cole Frederick found himself at the plate with the bases loaded and the game tied in the bottom of the seventh inning of Friday’s first game of the AHSAA Class 6A State Baseball Championship Series and delivered the game-winning hit as the Patriots of Coach Mark Garner won game one of the best-of-three series 4-3 versus defending state champion Cullman.
Saturday afternoon, he found himself on the mound in the bottom of the seventh with his team clinging to a 1-0 lead and runners on second and third with the two outs and the Bearcats’ best hitter Owen Lovell at the plate.
Lovell slammed a deep fly to center field which Jake Presley hauled in for the third out and Hillcrest (40-10) won its first state title since 2007 with the 1-0 win to sweep the series 2-0.
Frederick, who played shortstop for five innings as starter and winning pitcher Noah Barnette (7-2) struck out one, walked two and limited the Bearcats’ tough lineup to four singles and no runs, pitched the final two innings allowing one hit, walking two and striking out two to get the save. Frederick earned 6A Series MVP for his effort.
Cullman (40-13) got an outstanding pitching effort from starter Will Morrison (8-3), who hurled 6 1/3 innings, allowed four hits, one unearned run and struck out six. He yielded the game’s only run in the top of the sixth when Tyler Turner singled for Hillcrest’s first hit off the Cullman pitcher. Tyler moved all the way to third when Morrison’s pick-off attempt got by his first baseman. Turner then scored on Blake Robbins reached safely on a throwing error.
Hillcrest loaded the bases in the seventh and Coach Brent Patterson brought in reliever Levi Thomas, who faced one batter getting the Patriots’ hitter to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Turner, Pope, pinch hitter Michael Garner and Presley each had singles for the Patriots.
Noah Fondren had two hits, Lovell, Trent Price and Jacob Heatherly had one each for the Bearcats.