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Bottom line: Tigers sweep away Montgomery Catholic

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Their path was hardly textbook baseball, but this time of the year the bottom line is the result.
That is why the T.R. Miller Tigers are headed to the Class 3A quarterfinals after they ousted the Montgomery Catholic Knights with a second-round sweep at T.R. Miller Field Friday.
The Tigers (22-6) needed just six innings to post an 11-1 win in the opener. Game two saw T.R. Miller overcome a pair of deficits on its way to an 11-8 victory.
T.R. Miller was able to overcome 10 walks issued by game one starting hurler Baxley Raines, which included a string of five in a row in the first inning. Game two saw the Tigers squander a 5-0 lead thanks largely to a defense that committed seven errors, which included five in the first inning alone.
T.R. Miller was able to advance due to timely hitting. Ten of its 22 runs on the day were scored with two out. It also got strong relief from Allen Williams and Mackie Jackson in game two, as they allowed just one run over the final four and two-thirds innings.
Despite his control problems, Raines was able to survive because he allowed just two hits, both singles.
Raines walked five straight batters in the opening inning that forced in Montgomery Catholic's lone run of the game. The damage might have been much worse if T.R. Miller catcher Jordan Ball had not thrown out the first of the Knights to walk, Lee Wright, on a steal attempt of third base.
The Tigers were able to come from behind and grab the lead in the bottom of the second inning.
Justin Marshall was hit by a pitch and Williams singled to set up a two-out, two-run double by Jacob Salter. Jordan Cauley reached on a throwing error one batter later. That miscue allowed Salter to score and extend T.R. Miller's lead to 3-1.
The Tigers got another two-out run in the third inning. Tyler Shehan hit a one-out single and moved to second on a sacrifice by Becker Denton. Marshall then came through with a clutch two-out RBI single that made it 4-1.
The Tigers used a combination of key hits and Montgomery Catholic miscues to break the game open in a six-run fifth inning that built the lead to 10-1.
The big break came when Knights catcher Lee Wright threw the ball into leftfield on a pickoff attempt at third base with the sacks full that allowed two runs to score. The Tigers got another run in on another error and a fourth run in on a wild pitch. The damage was not all a result of Knights mistakes. Salter had the key blow of the inning, a two-run double.
Although T.R. Miller missed a chance to end the game on the 10-run rule in the fifth inning, it succeeded in that quest in the sixth. Tyler Chapman was hit by a pitch with one out, went to second on a groundout by Williams and scored on an RBI single by Tanner Shehan.
It looked as if T.R. Miller would continue its onslaught into game two. The Tigers, who were the visiting team on the scoreboard, batted around in the top of the first inning and staked themselves to a 5-0 lead.
A double by Salter and walks to Raines and Ball set up an RBI single by Tyler Shehan, a two-run single by Denton and another two-run single by Justin Curry.
T.R. Miller was able to somehow protect most of that lead in the bottom of the first inning despite the fact it committed five errors. Tigers starter Jacob Salter was able to escape the first inning defensive with a 5-2 lead still intact.
In the top of the second inning, T.R. Miller used singles by Cauley and Raines and an RBI double by Ball that extended its lead to 6-2.
The Knights chased Salter from the mound in a five-run third inning. An RBI double by Spencer Reynolds, a two-run single by Sean Vaught and a
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two-run error on a fielder's choice by Hause suddenly had the Knights in front 7-6.
Both teams exchanged runs in the fourth inning. Doubles by Raines and Ball enabled T.R. Miller to tie the game at 7-7 in the top half of the inning, but Vaught untied it with an RBI single in the bottom half of the inning that put Montgomery Catholic back in front 8-7.
All four of the Tigers' runs in a decisive four-run top of the fifth inning were scored with two out. Cauley's two-run single put T.R. Miller ahead for good, 9-8. Another run touched home plate on a passed ball and Ball picked up his fifth RBI on the day with an RBI single that made it 11-8.
Williams went the middle two and two-thirds innings where he allowed one run for the win. Jackson hurled two hitless and scoreless innings that secured the win.
The second-round sweep sends T.R. Miller to the quarterfinals where it will take on Montgomery Academy in the state's capital city in a best-of-three series that gets underway Friday. Game time has not been announced. Montgomery Academy advanced with 14-4, 6-1 sweep against Sumiton Christian Friday.
T.R. Miller and Montgomery Academy, which ousted the Tigers in the second round last year, split a twinbill in Montgomery earlier this season.
Game one
M. Catholic 100 000 – 1 2 4
T.R. Miller 031 061 – 11 11 2
Game two
T.R. Miller 510 140 0 – 11 13 7
M. Catholic 205 100 0 – 8 13 2
TRM 10, Leeds 0
The Tigers made quick work of visiting Leeds in Tuesday's opening round, as they downed the Green Wave 10-0 in just five innings.
It was a quick recovery from a disappointing 1-2 record and third place finish at the Escambia County Tournament the previous weekend.
It was one bad inning that led to Leeds' demise. The Tigers battered Green Wave starting pitcher Jesse Pendergrass for seven runs and eight hits in the first inning, a frame where T.R. Miller sent 11 batters to the plate.
Jacob Salter and Jordan Cauley both singled to start the first inning uprising. Baxley Raines became the third straight Tiger to single, but his hit was misplayed by second baseman Mike Laster and that allowed both Salter and Cauley to score.
Raines moved into scoring position on Jordan Ball's groundout. That became important when Tyler Shehan lined an RBI single plated Raines to make it 3-0.
After Becker Denton flew out, T.R. Miller had four straight two-out hits. Justin Marshall ripped an RBI double, Mackie Jackson beat out an infield single, Tanner Shehan clipped an RBI single and Salter belted a two-run double that took the lead to 7-0.
The Tigers, who picked up their 20th win of the season with the victory, added to that cushion in each of the next two innings.
Singles by Raines and Ball set up an RBI single by Denton in the second inning that made it 8-0.
Salter's RBI double in the third innings cored Tanner Shehan, who had beaten out an infield single and advanced to second on a passed ball, to make it 9-0.
T.R. Miller ended the game on the 10-run rule in the fifth inning. Tanner Shehan picked up his third single of the game and Salter followed with his fourth hit of the game, a single. Cauley popped out, but Raines joined the three-hit club with a single down the rightfield line that enabled Tanner Shehan to cross the plate.
Jackson cruised to a three-hit shutout on the mound where he walked four and struck out two. The only serious threat against Jackson came in the fourth inning where he walked the bases loaded, but escaped unscathed.
Leeds finished its season at 9-12.
At T.R. Miller
Leeds 000 00 – 0 3 2
T.R. Miller 711 01 – 10 18 0