Tigers secure wins over Blue Eagles, Blue Devils in Saturday games
By By Scott Cooper – Sports Reporter
In two games played this past Saturday at Miller Field, the T.R. Miller Tigers notched consecutive wins to improve their season record to 5-1.
In the first game played against the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles, the Tigers scored early and often in a dominating Area-1 victory over their cross-creek rival. Following the win over Neal, the Tigers then outlasted the Escambia County Blue Devils in a low-scoring game that was marked by excellent pitching and defense.
Miller 13, Neal 3
Both the Tigers and Blue Eagles entered Saturday's Area-1 opener with strong squads that had tasted success in the early season. While the Blue Eagles entered the matchup with a 4-1 record, the Tigers had accumulated a 3-1 mark.
On this particular day, however, Miller controlled the action the entire game. After a scoreless first inning, the Tigers jumped out to a lead in the second inning that continued escalating as the game wore on.
Miller starting pitcher Kurt Prater signaled things to come in the top of the first inning, as he sat the Blue Eagles down in order.
Neal starting pitcher Patrick Sorrells reciprocated in the bottom of the first. Although the first two Tiger batters reached on an error and a walk, Sorrells caught both leaning as he showed an outstanding move toward first in picking them off. Sorrells then got out of the inning unscathed by delivering a ground-out pitch for the third out.
After Prater recorded his second straight 3-up, 3-down inning in the top of the second, the Tigers came to bat determined to grab the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
Trent Davidson drew a walk before a Randy Holland single put Tiger base runners on second and third. Following a passed ball by the Blue Eagles that allowed Davidson and Holland to move forward on the bases, Eli Cook stepped to the plate and came through with a two-RBI single that moved Miller ahead, 2-0.
While Neal remained scoreless in the top of the third, the Tigers went wild on the offensive end to break the game open in the bottom of the inning. Although the Blue Eagles contributed to the scoring frenzy by committing four errors, Miller scored seven runs on four hits to push the lead to 9-0 as the two teams entered the fourth inning of play.
In the top of the fourth, the Neal offense showed signs of life. Daniel Hodge started the rally with a single before stealing second and moving to third on a passed ball. Hodge then proceeded across home plate on an error for Neal's first run. Later in the inning, a Jared Cooper base hit into left centerfield drove home two more Blue Eagle runs that reduced the Miller lead to 9-3.
The Tigers responded to the Neal challenge with a four-run bottom half of the fourth that sealed the Blue Eagles' fate. Two Neal errors contributed to one run, but then Joseph Turner lashed a two-RBI single that padded the Miller cushion to 12-3. Russell Bagwell then followed with an RBI single to give the Tigers a 13-3 lead as the Blue Eagles came to bat in the top of the fifth.
Due to the 10-run rule being in effect, Neal needed at least one run to extend the game. But, Prater and the Tiger defense would not allow the action to continue, as another 3-up, 3-down inning sat the Blue Eagles down in order and polished off a 13-3 Miller win.
Kurt Prater went the distance in earning the win, allowing only four hits while striking-out five.
Offensive leaders for the Tigers were Brad Lannom, 3-for-3 with two RBIs; Randy Holland, 2-for-3 with an RBI; Russell Bagwell, 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Joseph Turner, 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
Jared Cooper led the Neal offense by going 2-for-2 with two RBIs.
Miller 2, Escambia County 1
In Saturday's second game, Miller and the Escambia County Blue Devils settled into a defensive duel over seven innings before the Tigers prevailed, 2-1.
While four Miller pitchers combined to toss a three-hitter, the Tigers got the scoreboard early and held off a late Blue Devil challenge to notch the victory that extended Miller's winning streak to five games.
After Miller starter Josh Stanley held the Blue Devils scoreless in the top of the first, the Tigers came to bat and produced two runs in the bottom of the inning that proved to be enough for the win.
Jacob Salter got things going with a leadoff double before Kyle Rush reached after being hit by a pitch. Both crossed home plate two batters later courtesy of Ryan Holland's two-RBI double that put the Tigers in possession of a 2-0 lead.
With excellent pitching and defensive play by both teams dominating the action, the score remained unchanged through five innings.
Escambia County, however, came to bat in the top of the sixth inning and manufactured a run off only one base hit to tighten the score at 2-1.
After the Tigers failed to score in the bottom of the sixth, Trent Davidson came on in relief in the top of the seventh and shut down the Blue Devils' offense to preserve the Miller win.
Josh Stanley allowed no hits and struck-out three over three innings to earn the win.
Leaders at the plate for the Tigers were Ryan Holland, 2-for-3 with two RBIs; Randy Holland, 1-for-1; Jacob Salter, 1-for-3 and Kyle Rush, 1-for-3.
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