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Hartselle sweeps Homewood to advance to second round of state playoffs

Apr. 20—HARTSELLE — The Class 6A, No. 1-ranked Hartselle Tigers wasted no time making a statement this postseason, sweeping the No. 10 Homewood Patriots in two games Friday night.

Hartselle defeated the Patriots 6-2 in game one and 3-0 in game two to advance to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs. The Tigers will travel to face Pell City next week.

"It was a great environment, a packed house, and early on I think we were a little tight because of that," Hartselle coach Jake Miles said. "But I thought we loosened up and we had some veteran guys come through with some hits and some clutch plays."

Playing a top 10 opponent isn't your usual first round matchup, but that was just the way the Tigers liked it.

"We've played great teams all season, and they're as good a team as any we've faced. They're ranked in the top 10 for a reason," Miles said. "If you want to win a championship, those are the kind of teams you have to go through."

Hartselle 6, Homewood 2: Peyton Steele sent a three-run home run over the fence in the fifth inning to break open a tie game and give Hartselle the win Friday night.

Steele, an Alabama signee, has been on fire at the plate after recovering from an injury earlier in the season. Friday's Game 1 of the 6A playoffs was just another example.

"I'm hot right now, and I hope I stay that way throughout the playoffs," Steele said. "It killed me having to rest and rehab through that injury, but it's working out now."

While the home run will go in the scorebook to Steele, he said he had to give credit to someone else.

"My teammate on second base told me what was coming, so all the credit goes to Lawson Williams."

Homewood took the lead first in the first inning, scoring on an RBI single and just beating out a throw at home. That lead didn't last long though, as Hartselle went up 2-1 in the same inning off a two-RBI single from Cam Palahach.

Homewood tied the game 2-2 in the fourth, but Steele's home run an inning later put the Tigers ahead for good.

Steele led the way with two hits and three RBIs, while Palahach had two hits and two RBIs. Jace Meadows threw a complete game win, allowing four hits and two runs with nine strikeouts.

Hartselle 3, Homewood 0: Nick Chumley threw a gem on the mound as Hartselle blanked Homewood in Game 2.

Chumley allowed six hits and no runs with five strikeouts in six innings.

"I had all three of my pitches, splitter, curveball and fastball working, and I was able to locate them well," Chumley said.

Chumley worked his way out of two jams late in the game. In the fifth inning, Homewood had two runners on base with no outs and in the sixth the Patriots had runners at the corners. Chumley got out of both without surrendering a single run.

"I just knew I had to get a ground ball, because my defense is the best in the state," Chumley said.

That defense made plenty of great plays, including for the final out of the game when third baseman JoJo Williamson delivered a strike to first base while falling backwards.

"I couldn't believe that happened," Chumley said. "That should be on ESPN top 10. That was insane."

Williamson finished the game with two hits and two RBIs for the Tigers. Brody Leathers had three hits, and Asher Doepel had two hits and scored two runs.

caleb.suggs@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2395. Twitter @CalebSuggs2