Miscues cost Tigers opener at Gulf Shores
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It would have been easy for T.R. Miller Tigers baseball coach Jim Hart to blame an outfield error on a flyball as the cause of his team's downfall.
That miscue led to the go-ahead and eventual decisive runs in a 7-5 loss to the Pinson Valley Indians in Monday's opening round at the Gulf Shores Tournament. The loss also snapped a six-game T.R. Miller winning streak.
Instead Hart chose to look at other areas that proved to be sticking points in his team's performance.
One was the lack of key hits. Perhaps the most frustrating inning for T.R. Miller was the bottom of the seventh inning. In that frame, the Tigers, who stranded 10 runners, loaded the bases with nobody out and failed to score.
While T.R. Miller failed to cash in on the offensive side, the Tigers (9-2) opened the door for Pinson Valley rallies. The Indians got their leadoff man on base in six of seven innings, three of which occurred through walks.
"I guess if there is an encouraging part of this this game, as poorly as we played we were in still in position to win in the bottom of the seventh inning. We just made too many mistakes," Hart said. "The one thing we have to do is put this one behind us. It's over."
T.R. Miller dug its biggest hole since its previous lone loss to Montgomery Academy when it fell behind 3-0 in the first two innings.
Pinson Valley touched Tigers' pitcher Patrick Sorrells for a bases loaded walk by Chad Cherry and an RBI single by Todd Cherry in the top of the first inning. The Indians got another run in the second inning, as R.J. Barnett singled, stole second and third and scored on an infield single by Desmond Jennings.
The Tigers strung together five hits, four of which were consecutive, to tie the game in the bottom half of the second inning.
Ryan Holland led off with a double and moved up a base on Kurt Prater's single. Kyle Rush and Jordan Cauley came through with RBI singles that cut the lead to just 3-2. After Jacob Salter and Joseph Turner were retired, Brad Lannom hit a bloop RBI single into rightfield that scored Rush and tied the game at 3-3.
Pinson Valley regained the lead in the fourth inning, as an RBI groundout by Jennings and and an RBI single by Wes Gilmen put the Indians up 5-3.
T.R. Miller got those runs back in the bottom of the fifth inning. Singles by Trent Davidson, Jordan Ball and Prater set up a two-run, two-out single by Cauley that knotted the score again at 5-5.
Pinson Valley began the decisive top of the seventh inning with a walk by Sorrells to Gilmen. Chad Cherry hit a flyball into the right-centerfield that both T.R. Miller centerfielder Jacob Salter and rightfielder Ryan Holland tried to track down.
Salter got to the ball after a long run, but the ball bounced off his glove. That opened the door for an RBI single by Todd Cherry and an RBI groundout by Jordan Abdon that put the Indians ahead again, 7-5.
T.R. Miller still had a chance to at least tie and even win the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. Holland and Prater both singled and Tyler Shehan walked to load the bases with nobody out.
The threat lost some steam when Cauley hit into a one-two-three double play and then Salter tapped back to the pitcher to end the game.
T.R. Miller, which played Chilton County and Gulf Shores Tuesday, wraps up pool play today with a 10 a.m. game against Athens.
The championship round of the tournament will be played Thursday.
At Gulf Shores
Pinson Valley 210 200 2 – 7 9 0
T.R. Miller 030 020 0 – 5 13 2