Tigers advance with win over Alabama Christian
By By SCOTT COOPER – Sports Writer
With a dominating victory over the Alabama Christian Eagles in a Class 3A opening-round game played Wednesday at Tiger Field, the T.R. Miller Tigers served notice they are intent on being a factor in the playoffs.
The Tigers (18-7) responded with timely hitting over the course of the game while steadily pulling away to the win. In addition, Miller's defense consistently performed at a high level and provided the support that starting pitcher Kurt Prater needed against the potentially dangerous Eagles' offense.
Prater got things off to a good start from the mound by retiring Alabama Christian in order in the top of the first inning.
In the bottom half of the first, Joseph Turner lashed a leadoff double down the third base line that gave the Tigers an excellent chance to take a quick lead. But, the big hit needed to capitalize on the opportunity failed to materialize and the teams headed into the second inning locked in a scoreless tie.
Alabama Christian (13-10) began its top of the second inning with consecutive singles. But, Prater then retired the next three batters to escape the inning unscathed.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Tigers mounted a rally that lifted them to a lead that would only escalate as the game wore on. Kyle Rush reached on an error before moving to second on James Martin's base hit to left field. After Jacob Salter reached on an error, Turner stepped into the batter's box with the bases loaded and delivered a two-RBI single that placed Miller at a 2-0 advantage.
Prater gave up a single to the Eagles in the top of the third, but got out of the inning with no damage after delivering two groundout pitches along with an infield pop-up. However, the Tigers were sat down in order in the bottom of the inning to keep the score at 2-0 as the teams headed to the fourth.
A throwing error committed by the Tigers was responsible for an Eagle run in the top of the fourth that cut Miller's lead down to 2-1. But, the Tigers were about to burst the game wide open with their next turn at the plate.
Martin began the seven-run scoring frenzy with a double, and then came home on Jacob Salter's double to right field. Turner followed with an RBI single to centerfield before Russell Bagwell followed suit with another RBI single. Trent Davidson reached on a single before three consecutive walks accounted for two more runs. Martin then produced a two-RBI single to centerfield that pushed Miller's lead to 9-1.
The Eagles scored a run on three hits in the top of the fifth to reduce the Tigers' lead to 9-2. However, Turner scored in the bottom half of the inning on an error to regain Miller's eight-run leading margin, 10-2.
After the Eagles edged a bit closer with a lone sixth-inning run that made the score 10-3, the Tiger defense registered a 3-up, 3-down top of the seventh inning that closed the deal on a 10-3 win and earned them the right to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Kurt Prater allowed six hits over 5 1/3 innings to notch the win.
Leaders at the plate for the Tigers were James Martin, 4-for-4 with two RBIs; Joseph Turner, 3-for-4 with three RBIs; Russell Bagwell, 1-for-3 with one RBI and Trent Davidson, 1-for-3.