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Tigers salvage finale at Gulf Shores

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Granted, the field at the Gulf Shores Tournament contained some high quality competition.
Even with that in mind, the T.R. Miller Tigers baseball team did not head to beach country just to go 0-4. The Tigers avoided that distinction Wednesday when they salvaged their pool play finale with a 13-3 win over the Athens Golden Eagles.
"We didn't come here just to go 0-4, but we didn't come here to go 1-3 either," T.R. Miller coach Jim Hart. "I think we were just as good as the other teams in our pool, but we made too many mistakes. You're not going to beat good teams with the mistakes we made. Hopefully this has been a good learning experience for us and we can benefit from it the rest of the season."
The Tigers eliminated themselves from championship round contention with a 3-1 loss to the Chilton County Tigers and a 6-5 setback to the host Gulf Shores Dolphins Tuesday.
In the opener against Chilton County, T.R. Miller suffered a defensive breakdown in the top of the first inning with four consecutive errors. Those miscues gave Chilton County all three of its runs.
"I don't think I've ever seen us have a breakdown on defense like that. It was just terrible," Hart said.
Those three unearned runs were the only tallies Tigers' pitcher Trent Davidson allowed. Davidson tossed a complete game four-hitter and struck out 10.
Meanwhile T.R. Miller's offense also had trouble against Chilton County. T.R. Miller got a leadoff homer from Jacob Salter in the bottom half of the first inning, but that was its only marker.
That homer by Salter was one of his three hits on the day. Brad Lannom, Jordan Ball and Jordan Cauley all had one hit.
It was also a tough first inning that led to T.R. Miller's downfall in its loss to Gulf Shores.
After Salter scored in the top of the first inning off Davidson's double play grounder, Gulf Shores muscled up for five conseucitve two-out hits in the bottom half of the inning to score four runs. The big blow was a three-run homer by D.J. Jones against T.R. Miller starting and losing hurler Brad Lannom.
T.R. Miller was able to battle back from that early 4-1 deficit. A two-run homer by Patrick Sorrells in the top of the second inning cut the gap to just 4-3. The Tigers later scored two more runs in the fifth inning to take a 5-4 lead courtesy of a walk by Lannom and singles by Davidson, Ball and Tyler Shehan.
The Tigers were unable to hold that lead, as the Dolphins came up with a couple of key hits in the bottom half of the fifth inning that plated the tying and go-ahead runs.
Joseph Turner had a pair of hits to pace T.R. Miller's offense. Davidson, Ball, Shehan, Kurt Prater, Sorrells and Cauley all had one hit.
After its offense had been held somewhat in check for the first three games of the tournament, T.R. Miller's hitting got back on track in its 13-3 win over Athens Wednesday.
The Tigers broke loose for 17 hits, nine of which came from its top four spots in the lineup of Salter, Turner, Lannom and Davidson.
It took a while for T.R. Miller's hitting to heat up. An RBI single by Danny Brooks gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning, but Athens' Wes Downing matched that in the third inning to tie the game at 1-1.
Davidson, who lacked only the triple in his bid to hit for the cycle, blasted a solo homer in the top of the fourth inning that put T.R. Miller back on top 2-1.
The Tigers started to pull away in the fifth inning when it used five consecutive hits to score five runs. Salter, Turner and Davidson had RBI doubles in the frame, while Lannom and Ball both had RBI singles.
After Athens scored twice in the bottom half of the fifth inning and pulled within 7-3, the Golden Eagles' defense broke down with three errors in the top of the sixth inning. That opened the door for two more T.R. Miller runs to score, one of which came in on another RBI single by Lannom.
Four more runs by T.R. Miller in the top of the seventh inning provided some icing on the cake. Sorrells came through with a two-run double, while Salter and Lannom each had RBI singles.
The 13 runs and 17 hits were more than enough for winning hurler Kurt Prater, who went the
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distance and had seven strikeouts.
After 13 straight games away from their friendly confines, the Tigers (10-4) will finally return home Monday for a 4 p.m. game against Escambia County. A junior varsity contest will follow at approximately 6 p.m. T.R. Miller returns to Class 3A Area 1 play Tuesday with a 6 p.m. home game against W.S. Neal. Junior varsity play gets underway at 4 p.m.
Tuesday's game one
Chilton County 300 000 0 – 3 4 0
T.R. Miller 100 000 0 – 1 6 4
Game two
T.R. Miller 120 020 0 – 5 8 1
Gulf Shores 400 020 X – 6 8 1
Wednesday's game
T.R. Miller 010 152 4 – 13 17 0
Athens 001 020 0 – 3 11 4
NOTE: Oak Mountain (17-5) defeated Pinson Valley 6-3 in Thursday's championship game at the Gulf Coast Tournament.
Pinson Valley (17-8) won T.R. Miller's pool and beat the Tigers 7-5 in Monday's tournament opener.