Eagle Elite Coach of the Year: Blair leads SC to playoff run

By JOHNATHAN BENTLEY Eagle Sport Editor
Posted 7/4/18

Sumiton Christian entered the baseball season 11 years removed from its last deep playoff run.That’s over thanks to an impressive 2018 season that saw the Eagles make the third round of the state …

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Eagle Elite Coach of the Year: Blair leads SC to playoff run

Posted

Sumiton Christian entered the baseball season 11 years removed from its last deep playoff run.

That’s over thanks to an impressive 2018 season that saw the Eagles make the third round of the state playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Led by long-time coach Lance Blair, Sumiton Christian took out both Isabella and Victory Christian in the postseason before being eliminated by Millry. The Eagles finished 23-12, winning an area title along the way.

Blair is the Daily Mountain Eagle’s Baseball Coach of the Year. 

“The thing that set us apart from the last couple of years is that we played all seven innings,” Blair said. “We had a lot of come-from-behind victories. We had four walk-offs this year.”

Sumiton Christian got off to a slow start, carrying a 3-4 record into early March. That’s when the Eagles — led by seniors Peyton Alexander, Parker Crauswell, Luke McDonald, Blaine Sharpston and Andrew Tubbs — caught fire, reeling off 11 wins in their next 12 games. 

The Eagles were pushed to the limit by Heritage Christian in a three-game set that determined the area champion. Heritage took the opener 10-0, but Sumiton Christian bounced back for 4-3 and 9-4 wins to win the area title. 

Sumiton Christian dominated the first two rounds of the playoffs — sweeping Isabella (7-0 and 10-2) and Victory Christian (8-1 and 7-4). 

“Our goal was to get back to Sweet Water and play them again,” Blair said of the team that knocked off the Eagles in the second round in 2017. 

“I felt like we were good enough to be mentioned with the teams in the running for a state championship. The biggest thing we knew was that we would have to get by Sweet Water. Millry was good as well because they are in the area with them.”

Millry eliminated the Eagles at Blair Field in the quarterfinals, winning 16-1 and 9-5. Sweet Water eliminated Millry in the following round and went on to win the state championship.

“We pretty much met the goals we set up. We didn’t really feel like we fell short,” Blair said. “We were competitive. Many of the games we lost this year were close.”

Sumiton Christian makes the move to Class 2A next season and will return several of its top players, including first baseman/pitcher Joe Hicks, third baseman Jarrett McLain and pitcher Isaiah Wright.