Big comeback keeps Tigers alive
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It seems to happen all the time for a championship team.
Somewhere along the postseason path that squad will win a game where it has to come from behind, sometimes by a large margin, and is fortunate to survive.
Whether or not the T.R. Miller Tigers go on to bigger and better things this postseason remains to be seen. One thing is certain though. The Tigers put on quite an escape act to get past the visiting Dadeville Tigers 13-9 in Wednesday's opening round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
Although Dadeville's roster has undergone a major overhaul since last season, the win was some sweet revenge for T.R. Miller. It was Dadeville that eliminated the Tigers in last year's state quarterfinals.
For a while, it looked as if Dadeville (21-21) might inflict the same result again this year especially after it raced to a 6-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
"When you're in a single elimination format these first two rounds, one bad day and you're gone. In this case, one bad inning nearly got us," T.R. Miller coach Jim Hart said.
Control problems led to the undoing of T.R. Miller starting pitcher Patrick Sorrells in that second inning. Sorrells walked Brett Taylor, gave up a single to Hunter McBride and walked Spencer Folds to load the bases.
Rodger Smith put the visiting Tigers on the board with a two-run single. After Sorrells issued his third walk of the inning to Trey Foshe that reloaded the bases, a two-run single by Calvin Williams made it 4-0. Nic Porter grounded out, but that scored a fifth run. Sorrells issued his fourth free pass of the frame, as he hit Robbie Pizitchard. An RBI single by Jordie Steele made it 6-0 and ended Sorrells day after one and two-thirds innings.
Enter senior righthander Brad Lannom. While Lannom did not have a hit, he may have been T.R. Miller's Most Valuable Player on the day like he was at last weekend's Escambia County Tournament.
Lannom escaped further damage in the second inning when he struck out Taylor. He then allowed just two hits and no runs over the next four innings.
"We were really in a tough position, but Brad came in and shut the door and gave us a chance to come back," Hart said.
It did not take long for T.R. Miller (23-5) to cut into Dadeville's lead. The host Tigers got right back in the game in the bottom half of the second inning with a four-run rally that also knocked out Dadeville starting pitcher Trent Nolan.
After Jordan Ball walked and Kurt Prater singled, Ryan Holland put T.R. Miller on the board with an RBI single. Jordan Cauley got another run in on a fielder's choice, Jacob Salter ripped an RBI double and Joseph Turner had an RBI groundout. Just like that it was 6-4.
The rest of Dadeville's lead disappeared in the bottom of the third inning. Trent Davidson singled, Ball doubled and Prater reached on an infield error to load the bases. Kyle Rush walked to force in Davidson to make it 6-5. Cauley, who won Monday's game against Monroe County with a three-run homer, continued his clutch hitting with a two-run single that put T.R. Miller in front 7-6.
T.R. Miller got some breathing room in the fifth inning when an RBI double by Salter and a two-run single by Turner made it 10-6.
The host Tigers pulled even farther away in the sixth inning when Prater's RBI single and Salter's two-run single knocked T.R. Miller's advantage up to 13-6.
Like he had for the first four and one-third innings of his relief stint, Lannom looked as if he would cruise through the seventh inning. After he walked Williams to start the inning, Lannom got Porter to hit into a five-four-three double play.
With the sun setting, the T.R. Miller defense had a tough time picking up balls hit into the air. Dadeville had four hits in succession through a single, a double, an RBI single by Taylor and a two-run double by McBride. Suddenly the cushion was only 13-9 and the tying run was only two spots away.
Lannom and the host Tigers finally got the elusive third out when Spencer Folds flew out to Salter in centerfield.
Perhaps it was fitting Salter made the last out. He was a huge catalyst in T.R. Miller's win from his leadoff spot with a single, three doubles and four RBIs.
At the other end of the lineup Cauley had two singles, a walk and three RBIs from the nine spot and Ball had a pair of doubles from the middle of the lineup in the fifth position.
"Those three really had great games for us, but we hit the ball well as a team," Hart said.
The win sent T.R. Miller into Saturday's second round game where it hosted Montgomery Academy. Montgomery Academy blasted Francis Marion 28-1 in its first-round matchup. T.R. Miller and Montgomery Academy split a doubleheader in Montgomery back in March.
The winner will advance to next weekend's quarterfinal round game against the Straughn-Munford winner.
At T.R. Miller
Dadeville 060 000 3 – 9 10 3
T.R. Miller 043 033 X – 13 14 0
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