There is nothing like having good pitching for a baseball team, especially in the postseason.
The Dothan Wolves had plenty of it Friday night.
Behind the complete-game performances of Chase Allsup and J.P. Reed, plus tie-breaking sixth-inning runs in both games, the Wolves earned a first-round Class 7A doubleheader sweep over Fairhope at the Dothan campus, 3-2 and 5-3.
The playoff series win was the first in the two-year history of the new Dothan High, which formed through the consolidation of Dothan and Northview in the fall of 2019. It was also the first as a Class 7A school for any Dothan high school.
The 10th-ranked Wolves (26-9) travel to No. 2 ranked Central-Phenix City (32-5) for next week’s second round.
“We are right on pace to where I thought we would be,” Dothan head coach Alex Sanford said. “With the talent and the players we have, I feel we are right on pace and can compete with anyone in the state if we pitch it and play defense like we did in these two games.”
Allsup and Reed combined in 14 innings to limit the Pirates to eight total hits, while striking out 25. Allsup struck out 14 and allowed five hits in the opener and Reed followed by striking out 11 and allowing just three hits in the nightcap. The two also allowed only three walks.
Allsup, an Auburn signee, showed in the opener why plenty of pro scouts are watching and following him these days, dazzling with a fastball that topped out at 96 miles per hour according to one scout. He added sharp curveballs and effective sliders before adding 86 mile per hour change-ups in the later stages of the game.
“It was just an outstanding job by Chase,” Sanford said. “He is dominating when he is in the zone. We ran into a hiccup when we gave up the two spot (in the fourth inning), but Chase kept his composure. He is a workhorse on the mound.”
Reed was equally dominating in game two with his 11 strikeouts, earning one in every inning, including the final out of the game. He allowed a solo homer in the fourth and two hits in a two-run fifth plus one walk and one hit batter and nothing else.
Normally, the Wolves go to Te’Relle George-Mills as the starter behind Allsup, but Sanford and the coaching staff made a late decision on Friday to turn to Reed for game two. Reed, who will play at Central Alabama Community College next year, made the move pay off.
“JP picked us up through Prattville and carried us through Enterprise (the last two weeks) and we said, ‘Senior pitcher, this is your moment,’” Sanford said. “I can’t ask more from that guy.”
In both games, Dothan scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.
In the opener, Dothan broke a 2-2 tie. Mark Padilla led off by reaching on an infield single that the pitcher couldn’t handle as he went to the third base line. Padilla stole second and went to third on a throwing error by the catcher.
George-Mills then singled to right-center to bring Padilla home to put Dothan in front.
“We got a hammer award that we give out – a sledge hammer off the edge of a sawed-off bat and you would think it would go to Te’Relle for the RBI single, but we actually gave it to Mark Padilla, who gets a hustle ground ball (hit) off a swinging bunt, then credit him with a good stolen base attempt and he immediately picked up the ball (on the bad throw) and got to third,” Sanford said.
Allsup retired the side in the top of the seventh, recording two strikeouts, to finish it.
In the second game, the Wolves, the visiting team, snapped a 3-all tie with two runs in the sixth. Carter Fanning doubled to start the frame and Blake Wynn dropped down a bunt single to put runners at the corners. After a strikeout, Padilla was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
A deep sacrifice fly to right field by Mills scored Fanning and a wild pitch scored Wynn.
Reed secured the win, retiring six of the final seven hitters, including two on strikeouts.
In the opener, Dothan got off to a quick start, capitalizing on control issues by Fairhope pitcher Forrest Gunnison to score two first-inning runs.
Gunnison walked the first three batters to start Dothan’s opening inning – George-Mills, Bauer Sharp and Matthew Omohundro – to load the bases. Clean-up hitter Jace Dyer then slapped a 2-2 pitch up the middle for a two-run single.
A double play helped Gunnison avoid further damage, as the Wolves later put runners at first and third in the frame.
The seven or so MLB scouts who were on hand to watch Allsup certainly had to like what they saw early as the Wolves hurler retired the first six batters he faced, five on strikeouts.
The Pirates, though, threatened against Allsup in the third as Hayden Phillips led off with a double. Brooks Brasfield singled and moved to second on a throw home, setting up Fairhope with runners at second and third with only one out.
However, Allsup roared back, striking out two straight, both swinging, to snuff out the threat.
The Pirates tied the game in the top of the fourth with a pair of runs.
With one out, Brendan Guerry, who reached on a force out, stole second base. Bryce Knox then hit a slow grounder to the shortstop, who threw slightly wide of first base and a tag attempt was knocked loose. Guerry came in to score on the error. After a walk put runners at first and second, Phillips singled past the shortstop to drive in the second run.
Dothan then surged ahead with its sixth-inning run.
In game two, the Wolves scored a pair of runs in the fourth inning to go up 2-0
Dyer led off with a single. After as strikeout, Fanning doubled to put runners at second and third. Wynn then hit a deep fly ball that the leftfielder, Brasfield, couldn’t catch. Dyer scored easily, but Brasfield threw out Fanning at the plate. A passed ball moved Wynn to third and Carter Davis lined a RBI double down the right-field line to score him.
Fairhope, the home team for the second game, cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fourth on a solo homer to left-center by Cam Brock.
The Wolves got the run back in the top of the fifth, thanks to shaky Fairhope defense. Sharp reached when a throw from the shortstop pulled the first baseman off the bag. After a hit and run ground out allowed Sharp to move to second, a dropped fly ball in the outfield off the bat of Dyer allowed him to come home.
Fairhope tied it in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of runs, the last gifted by Dothan. Brock opened the inning with a single and Phillips doubled down the left field line. A sacrifice fly by Jacob Markris scored Brock, making it 3-2.
After an infield fly, Reed got a strikeout that looked like might end the inning, but it was in the dirt, forcing the catcher to throw to first. The throw was bad, allowing the runner to reach and Phillips to score to tie the game.