Gardendale Rallies in the 17th Inning to nip Hueytown 2-1 in the AHSAA’s Longest Baseball Game on record

Gardendale, AL – Gardendale High School baseball coach Ryan Keedy has been around the baseball diamond since his days in diapers. His dad Pat Keedy was playing in the majors when Ryan was just a toddler. His dad returned to Jefferson County to coach high school baseball, coaching his son at Mortimer Jordan and brought him onto his coaching staff at Gardendale over a decade ago. When dad stepped down in 2018, Ryan became the Rocket’s head coach.

On Wednesday night Ryan found himself in the dugout for the longest high school baseball game in AHSAA history. Gardendale persevered with a 2-1 win over Hueytown in 17 innings. It was the longest game the baseball veteran has ever seen.

Keedy was a tremendous hitter and first baseman who earned All-State honors in high school. He then a standout at Wallace State and UAB earning All-America honors and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs, spending three years in the minor leagues. 

“I played in a 16-inning game in my first year in the minors,” Keedy said. “That was wild. But this one, well, it was something we won’t soon forget.”

According to the AHSAA Record Book, the longest high school game on record in the AHSAA was a 16-inning marathon won by Spain Park 9-6 over Sparkman in 2012. Wednesday’s game was four outs longer.  The longest game on record, according to the NFHS Record Book, is 25 innings. Honolulu Kamehameha and McKinley high schools played 25 innings in 1967 with Kamehameha winning 9-7. Hayward and San Lorenzo, two California high schools, also played 25 innings with Hayward winning 2-1 in a 1975 game. Florida’s Miami High School nipped Hialeah 1-0 in a 24-inning game in 1970 for the longest shutout in history.

Gardendale and Hueytown starred the game at 4 p.m., then battled for 16 scoreless innings before the Gophers scored a run in the top of the 17th inning. The Rockets, however, clawed back and scored two runs in the bottom of the 17th to notch the win.

Winning pitcher Caiden Combs, a junior committed already to Auburn, drove in the winning run to end the game.

“We had who we wanted at the plate, and Caiden delivered. It was a great team win. I looked at my watch as the game ended,” Keedy said. “It ended at 8:31 p.m. We played for four hours and 31 minutes. We had a junior varsity game scheduled after we finished, and a lot of those fans were already there. We had a good crowd, and nobody wanted to leave.”

The Rockets used two pitchers. Ace Logan Fitzgerald pitched the first nine innings allowing four hits, no runs, issued one walk and struck out eight. Combs pitched the final eight innings yielding an unearned run in the top of the 17th but pitched out of the jam to notch the win. He gave up three hits, walked two and struck out eight as well.

Combined, they threw 213 pitches with 136 strikes – a 63.8% rate – allowing seven hits and striking out 16.

Miles Bradberry, who had two hits for Hueytown, reached base on an error in the top of the 17th inning and later scored on an RBI single by Hunter Syx before Combs snuffed out the rally.

In the bottom of the inning, Gardendale tied the game 1-1.  Jackson Firestone drove in Braden Chapple to tie the  game. With one out and the bases full with Carson Burdette on third, Adam Yazel on second and Firestone on first, Combs came to the plate. He singled to left plating Burdette with  the winning run.

Hueytown Coach Billy Chandler used five pitchers in the game. Braden McCrary started and tossed five scoreless innings giving up three hits, two walks and whiffing four. Samuel Vaughan then pitched the next five innings allowing four hits, six walks and striking out five. William Vaughan hurled the next five innings yielding four hits, four walks and striking out six. Marshall Bradberry pitched a scoreless inning in the 16th but was credited with giving up both runs and got the loss. Tanner Vaughn gave up the final hit.

Hueytown’s pitchers combined to give up 13 hits, issued 15 walks and struck out 15. They also threw 284 pitches with 164 strikes for a 57.7% rate. Both teams combined to throw 497 pitches and struck out 31.

Shortstop Cooper Jarvis and catcher Easton Kleyn had three hits each for Gardendale, Combs had two hits and two walks, and lead-off hitter Adam Yazel batted nine times and drew five walks.

Bo Bachtel and Kleyn each had a double. Bradberry and Syx had two hits each for Hueytown, and Jacob Hanberry had a double for the Gophers’ only extra-base hit. 

“Both teams played well,” said Keedy. “Several of our fans wanted to know if we would be playing Hueytown again this season. We don’t have any other games scheduled; however, I think we both hope so. They are in the South, and we are in the North, and the only way we could meet again would be in the Class 6A state championship series.”

That would indeed be baseball karma at its best.

Cover Photo: Caiden Combs delivers the game-winning hit in final inning of AHSAA’s longest game. (AHSAA PHOTO | Courtesy | Vasha Hunt)

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