Win puts Tigers back in Area hunt
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
When the T.R. Miller Tigers baseball team lost its Class 3A Area 1 opener to Clarke County and made seven errors in the process, they looked a lot more like pretenders than contenders.
Thanks to last Friday's 7-2 win over W.S. Neal and now Monday's 8-3 home win over the Straughn Tigers, the Tigers are once again contenders.
"Beating Straughn was such a huge win for us. If we had lost, we're two games behind both Straughn and Clarke County with only three games left. A loss wouldn't have knocked us out by any means, but it probably would have put us in a position where we would have to run the table. I'm not going to say we couldn't run the table, but I'm glad we're not in that position where we have to," T.R. Miller coach Jim Hart said.
Monday's win continued the feast or famine pattern for the victorious Tigers (6-4 overall and 2-1 in Area 1). In its six wins, T.R. Miller has scored 57 runs (9.5 per game) and just four runs in its four losses (one per game).
"We felt coming into the season that we were going to have to hit in order to win, especially early in the season, and so far that has been the case. It has been a frustrating up and down pattern," Hart said.
A big reason why the Tigers' offense was on the up side Monday was largely due to Jacob Salter, Tyler Shehan and Jordan Cauley.
Salter, who started on the mound and allowed one run over three innings, triggered the offense from the leadoff spot with two infield singles and a double. Tyler Shehan continued his recent tear with an RBI single and a double. The biggest bat belonged to Cauley, as the junior shortstop had a two-run single and a three-run homer for five total RBIs.
"Jacob is a big key for us. He uses his speed to make things happen. Tyler has really been swinging the bat well lately. We actually moved him up in the batting order to fifth. Jordan has been just a little bit of a slump, but he came out of it in a big way," Hart said.
T.R. Miller caught a break in the bottom of the first inning after Salter beat out a bunt single and stole second. Cauley struck out, but reached safely on a throwing error to first base. Salter came around to score on the error. Later in the inning Tyler Shehan came up with an RBI single to make it 2-0.
Straughn (8-7 overall and 1-1 in Area 1) got one of those runs back in the top of the second inning, but the host Tigers used a three-run rally in the bottom half of the inning to pull even farther away.
With two out, Tanner Shehan was hit by a pitch and Salter beat out another infield single. Up stepped Cauley, who planted a ball over the left-centerfield wall for a three-run homer and a 5-1 lead.
The host Tigers added two more runs to that total in the bottom of the fourth inning. Mackie Jackson led off with a walk and Salter doubled to set up a two-run single by Cauley that made it 7-1.
T.R. Miller went up 8-1 in the fifth inning when Tyler Shehan doubled with one out. Becker Denton struck out, but for the second time in the game a dropped third strike resulted in a throwing error to first base and a run.
That was more than enough cushion for Jackson, who took over for Salter on the hill in the fourth inning. Jackson cruised through the final four innings to get the win.
"It was by far Mackie's best outing of the season. Jacob gave us what he could and Mackie stepped up for him after that," Hart said.
T.R. Miller, which played at Flomaton Tuesday, has another key Area 1 date Friday when it hosts Clarke County in a 4 p.m. doubleheader.
At T.R. Miller
Straughn 010 002 0 – 3 10 2
T.R. Miller 230 210 X – 8 8 0
UMS blanks TRM
The Tigers' feast or famine season hit a starvation day Saturday when T.R. Miller was blanked 8-0 at UMS-Wright.
The Tigers were blanked on five hits in a complete game effort by UMS-Wright hurler Michael Winthrop, who struck out eight.
Tanner Shehan came up with two of those five hits, while Tyler Shehan, Jordan Cauley and Jacob Salter all had one.
UMS-Wright gave Wintrhop all the support he needed when Park Parker delivered a two-run single in the second inning off Cauley, who started and suffered the loss with two innings of work.
The Bulldogs doubled their lead to 4-0 with a pair of additional runs in the third inning and finished off their victory with three final tallies in the fifth.
In just its second game of the spring and first in 15 days, T.R. Miller's junior varsity dropped a 9-1 decision to UMS-Wright.
The Bulldogs put up seven runs in the opening inning and never looked back.
Matt Hamric had two hits and drove in the lone T.R. Miller run. Chris Griffin also had two hits, while James Hamric had one. James Hamric, who scored the only T.R. Miller run, took the loss with three innings of work. The JV Tigers are 0-2.
T.R. Miller 000 000 0 – 0 5 3
UMS-Wright 022 030 X – 7 7 1