ALBERTVILLE – The Fort Payne Wildcats came up short in a crucial area bout Tuesday against rival Albertville.
The Aggies jumped ahead with three early runs and tacked onto their lead through the middle innings on their way to a 7-2 win over Fort Payne.
The Wildcats nearly struck first in the top of the first when Dylan Wisener led off with a single to left field. He moved up to second and third on a pair of groundouts, but was stranded 90 feet from the plate.
Albertville then took the lead in their half of the first with three runs on a pair of doubles, a single and a walk.
The Wildcats bounced back though in the top of the second and cut the lead to one.
That rally started with a leadoff single from J.D. Blalock before Carson Burt drew a walk.
Blalock then stole third and scored when Levee Hall grounded out to shortstop.
Burt then moved to third on a groundout from Dylan Ledford and scored when Ricky Adame smacked a 2-out, RBI single to the left side to make the score 3-2 in favor of the Aggies.
Fort Payne starting pitcher worked around three walks and a hit batter to escape a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the second before Robbie represented the tying run after reaching on an error to lead off the third.
Graham moved to second on a passed ball and went to third on a Ben Perry groundout, but was stranded at third.
The Aggies then added one run in the third, two in the fourth and one more in the fifth to make the score 7-2.
Fort Payne went down in order in both the fourth and fifth before giving themselves a chance to cut into the lead again in the late innings.
J.D. Blalock singled and Burt was hit by a pitch with two outs in the top of the sixth, but Fort Payne stranded both runners.
Wisener later singled when the Wildcats were down to their final out in the seventh and Graham reached on an error, but Fort Payne was unable to bring in either runner as the Aggies sealed the win.
Gifford struck out three and walked five in 3 1/3 innings pitched. Dalton Gray struck out one and walked while giving up a run in 2/3 of an inning. Hall then closed out the last two frames, where he gave up one run on three hits and walked none.
Wisener and Blalock had two singles each and Blalock scored a run and stole two bases.
Adame went 1-for-2 with one RBI and Graham reached twice on a pair of Albertville errors. Hall had an RBI and Burt walked once, was hit by a pitch and scored.
The Wildcats will have to sweep the Aggies at home today in order to punch their ticket to the Class 6A playoffs. Their first game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. today.