Sweep gives Tigers Area 1 lead

Published 10:24 pm Monday, March 28, 2005

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Good teams win the games they should. They also sometimes find ways to win games they should not.
After the T.R. Miller Tigers made a firm statement with a 12-2, five-inning win over the Clarke County Bulldogs in Friday's opening game at Brewton, they completed the sweep with a stunning 12-11 win in the nightcap.
The sweep dramatically changes the Tigers position in the Class 3A Area 1 race from pursuers to the pursued.
Clarke County (7-8 overall and 1-1 in Area) entered the evening as the only unbeaten team in the Area. The first game win enabled T.R. Miller (9-4 overall and 3-1 in the Area) to pass the Bulldogs, who still have home and away Area games with W.S. Neal and Straughn, and take over the Area lead. The second game win gives the Tigers a tiebreaker in case the teams finished tied in the standings at the end of the season.
"It was very pivotal evening for us. The first game win was big, but the second game win was just as big. I'm not sure our players are aware of how big that tiebreaker advantage is. We're in a position now where we control our destiny," T.R. Miller coach Jim Hart said.
All nine spots in the Tigers lineup made offensive contributions in both wins. Perhaps the biggest bat of those contributors came in the number nine spot where sophomore outfielder Tanner Shehan collected four hits and drove in three runs.
"Tanner had an outstanding day. We don't hit him ninth because we think he isn't a good hitter because he is. He has good speed and he gives us a good combination with Jacob Salter hitting behind him in the leadoff spot," Hart said.
The Tigers built an 8-0 lead through the first three innings of game one. Jordan Cauley had an RBI single in the opening inning and Salter had an RBI single in the second inning. A five-run third inning for T.R. Miller was fueled by Clarke County mistakes. Three runs scored on wild pitches, a fourth run scored on an error and Baxley Raines walked with the bases loaded to force in a run that made it 8-0.
Raines coasted on a one-hit shutout until the top of the fifth inning when the Bulldogs strung together a double and four singles that produced their two runs.
Despite the lost shutout, T.R. Miller was still able to end the game on the 10-run rule with a four-run rally in the bottom of the fifth. Jordan Ball had an RBI double, Tyler Shehan drove in a run with the sacrifice fly, Becker Denton had an RBI double and Justin Marshall ended the game with an RBI single.
Salter, Ball and Tanner Shehan all had two hits with an RBI to pace the Tigers attack.
Game two was a wild seesaw affair that perhaps fittingly ended with the home team's last at bat.
T.R. Miller overcame a pair of first inning runs by Clarke County with a five-run outburst in the bottom half of the inning. Denton and Marshall both had infield RBI singles, Justin
Curry walked with the bases loaded and Tanner Shehan ripped a two-run double that made it 5-2.
See SWEEP Page 8
That lead lasted only until Clarke County batted in the top of the second inning. Led by a two-run double by Robert Malone, the Bulldogs put four runs up on the board off Tiger starter Jacob Salter and moved back in front 6-5.
Tyler Shehan singled down the rightfield line and scored Cauley in the bottom of the second inning that tied the score at 6-6, but an RBI double by Jeff Gates in the top of the third put the Bulldogs ahead for a third time at 7-6.
T.R. Miller thought it tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ball blasted along drive over the leftfield wall, but the homerun was wiped out when Ball was ruled to have stepped out of the batter's box with the swing.
Instead of a tie score, Clarke County still led 7-6 and that lead grew to 10-6 in the top of the fifth inning when the Bulldogs scored three runs off reliever Mackie Jackson, who went the final five innings.
The Tigers moved within striking distance in the bottom of the sixth inning when an RBI single by Salter, an RBI fielder's choice by Ball and an RBI single by Denton cut the deficit to 10-9.
An unearned run that scored on a wild pitch gave Clarke County what appeared to be an invaluable insurance run in the top of the seventh inning that stretched the Bulldogs' advantage to 11-9.
T.R. Miller's decisive rally in the bottom of the seventh inning began in improbable fashion. Jackson struck out, but reached on a wild pitch. Tanner Shehan was hit by a pitch and Salter walked to load the bases with nobody out.
Cauley lined a single into centerfield that scored both pinchrunner Allen Williams and Tanner Shehan to tie the score. Then the ball scooted through the legs of Clarke County centerfielder Jared Gates and that also allowed Salter to score the winning run.
"I think our comeback against Andalusia (where the Tigers scored five in the bottom of the seventh to win) helped us in that second game spot. We never gave up and the players always believed they would win," Hart said. "I think the key to the game was we didn't come unglued when Jordan's homer was wiped out and they probably did with their mistakes."
The Tigers are off until this Friday when they travel to Straughn for a 4 p.m. doubleheader another Area 1 date.
Game one
Clarke County 000 02 – 2 6 4
T.R. Miller 215 04 – 12 11 1
Game two
Clarke County 241 030 1 – 11 10 1
T.R. Miller 510 003 3 – 12 13 3
Denton no-hits Flomaton
Tuesday was better known as Becker Denton day, as the Tigers sophomore had the best day so far in his prep career.
Denton not only collected three hits and drove in a run at the plate, but on the mound the righthander tossed a no-hitter with six strikeouts in an 11-1, five-inning road win over the Flomaton Hurricanes.
Another T.R. Miller sophomore, Baxley Raines, also stood out with three hits and three RBIs. One of Raines' three hits was a two-run homer.
The Tigers were able to give Denton some breathing room before he even took the mound when they plated four runs in the top of the fourth inning.
Walks to Jacob Salter and Jordan Cauley and a single by Raines loaded the bases for Jordan Ball. Ball came through with a two-run single. Then Denton helped his cause with an RBI single that made it 3-0 and an RBI fielder's choice by Tyler Shehan drove in Ball for the fourth run of the inning.
Flomaton was able to get one of those back in the bottom of the first inning without the aid of a hit, but T.R. Miller regained its original four-run lead in the top of the third inning. Singles by Tyler Shehan and Denton set up an RBI single by Tanner Shehan that made it 5-1.
The Tigers broke the game open in the fourth inning when Salter belted a solo homer. Cauley followed with a single right before Raines delivered his two-run round tripper that made it 8-1.
Three more T.R. Miller runs in the top of the fifth inning put the 10-run rule into effect.
Salter started the trouble with a walk and Cauley reached on a fielder's choice. Raines posted his third hit of the day, an RBI single that made it 9-1. Two more runs crossed the plate when a ball hit by Ball was misplayed for an error.
T.R. Miller's junior varsity picked up its first win of the season Tuesday when it bumped off Flomaton 6-1.
Winning hurler James Hamric scattered four hits and recorded 11 strikeouts in a complete game effort.
Matt Hamric provided two hits and an RBI to pace T.R. Miller, while both Stephen Mathews and Will Waters also had two hits. Chris Griffin, Corey Williams and Jonathan Taylor all had one hit and one RBI.
At Flomaton
T.R. Miller 401 33 – 11 13 1
Flomaton 100 00 – 1 0 3