Tigers take Area 1 lead from WSN

Published 3:04 pm Monday, March 27, 2006

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
In a game that was filled with more than its share of mistakes, it was the last of those miscues that gave the T.R. Miller Tigers a 14-13, nine-inning win over the visiting W.S. Neal Blue Eagles Friday.
The win enabled T.R. Miller to pass the Blue Eagles for the top position in Class 3A Area 1. The Tigers (8-4 overall and 2-0 in Area play) are now the only undefeated team left in the Area. W.S. Neal (7-2 overall and 2-1 in Area play) could have taken a stranglehold on the Area race with a win, but instead fell a half game behind.
T.R. Miller won the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth after W.S. Neal botched what seemed to be a sure-fire double play ball and then a potential forceout at the plate on the game's last play.
Baxley Raines started the winning rally in the bottom of the ninth inning with his fourth hit of the game, a leadoff double into rightfield off W.S. Neal reliever Josey Brown. Becker Denton followed with his fifth hit, an RBI single that tied the game at 13-13.
The Blue Eagles appeared to douse any further damage when Mackie Jackson hit a groundball back to Brown, but his throw down to second base was dropped. Allen Williams then walked to load the bases with nobody out. Much like Jackson two batters earlier, Stephen Matthews hit a roller back to Brown, but his low throw home sailed past catcher Jacob Cannon and Denton came in with the winning run.
W.S. Neal had taken its first lead since the top of the first inning in the top of the ninth when Justin Smith walked, stole second, went to third on Eric Howell's flyball into rightfield and scored on Mackie Jackson's wild pitch to put the Blue Eagles up 13-12.
Smith's run capped off what looked to be a tremendous comeback by the Blue Eagles, who erased a 12-8 T.R. Miller lead with four runs in the top of the seventh. Josh Danley's infield single and walks to James Freeman and Justin Smith preceded an RBI groundout by Howell, a two-run single by Spencer Williamson and Jared Cooper's game-tying RBI double.
Earlier in the game the Blue Eagles wiped out another T.R. Miller four-run lead, this one 6-2 after two innings.
W.S. Neal took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Justin Smith walked, Howell tripled him home and T.R. Miller starting hurler Raines unleashed a run-scoring wild pitch.
The Tigers got those two runs back plus one more in the bottom half of the first when Jackson's two-run single tied the game and Allen Williams's RBI double put T.R. Miller up 3-2. That lead went to 6-2 one inning later when Raines touched Blue Eagles starting hurler Whitney Qualls for a two-run double and Denton singled him home.
A five-error inning by the T.R. Miller defense in the top of third inning enabled the Blue Eagles to score four times to tie the game at 6-6, but the Tigers regained an 8-6 advantage with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning.
RBI doubles by Williamson and Cooper brought W.S. Neal even again at 8-8 in the top of the fourth, but an RBI single by Jackson and a run-scoring error on a ball hit by Williams put T.R. Miller back in front 10-8 in the bottom half of the inning.
Raines' third of four extra base hits was a two-run homer off Brown, who had relieved Qualls the prior inning, that extended T.R. Miller's lead to 12-8.
That turned out not to be enough for both Raines, who struck out 11 in seven innings, and the Tigers. Instead they needed every one of a season high 21-hit attack to prevail.
W.S. Neal had 11 hits, but nine of those came from the top five spots in the lineup. The bottom four spots went two-for-18 with nine strikeouts.
a pitch) were on base,” Hart said.
T.R. Miller gets a week off to prepare for the next encounter between the teams, which comes Friday when the Tigers and Blue Eagles hook up for a noon doubleheader in East Brewton.
Prior to that showdown, W.S. Neal has quite a bit of work to do. The Blue Eagles will host their own invitational tournament where they face Monroe County at 10 a.m. Monday, Flomaton at 5:30 p.m. Monday and Escambia County at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
At T.R. Miller
WSN 204 200 401 – 13 11 5
TRM 332 220 002 – 14 21 7