Tigers secure Area crown

Published 4:51 pm Monday, April 10, 2006

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
There may not be a big demand for the blueprints on how they got there, but that is OK with the T.R. Miller Tigers. The most important thing for them is the end result.
T.R. Miller wrapped up the Class 3A Area 1 championship, and locked up a first-round home game for the first round of the state playoffs Friday when it held off the host Clarke County Bulldogs 3-2.
The Tigers (11-4 overall and 5-0 in the Area) won despite the fact they were held to two hits and struck out 17 times against Clarke County pitcher Robert Malone. Only six of the 35 T.R. Miller batters put the ball in play.
The Tigers failed to take advantage of early control problems by Malone, who walked 10 and hit two in the first four innings. During those frames the Tigers stranded 11 runners and left the sacks full in the second, third, and fourth innings.
T.R. Miller pitcher Mackie Jackson made what little offensive support he got stand up, as he tossed a complete game four-hitter with seven strikeouts.
Jackson put himself and the Tigers ahead in the top of the first inning when he followed walks to Jordan Cauley and Baxley Raines with an RBI single.
T.R. Miller doubled that lead to 2-0 in the second inning when Brice Martin singled, and both Tanner Shehan and Cauley both walked to load the
bases. Malone then hit Raines with a pitch that forced home Martin.
A similar sequence enabled the Tigers to stretch that lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning. Cauley drew his third walk, and Becker Denton and Jackson also walked to load the bases. Malone then hit Justin Marshall to force in Cauley.
As much as Malone struggled with his control up until that point, he was just as dominant the rest of the way. Malone set down the final 11 Tigers he faced. Ten of those outs came by strikeouts, which included the last seven.
The missed opportunities T.R. Miller squandered in the first four innings nearly bit it in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Dwayne Owens led off the inning with a single, Bobbie Barnes walked, and Danny Norris was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out. Jackson fanned Rashad Snell, but Terrance Frazier lined a two-run single up the middle that cut the Tigers' lead to 3-2.
Tyler Walker tapped back to Jackson for the second out, but that allowed both the tying and winning runs to move into scoring position. Jackson preserved the victory and the Area championship when he also got Malone to tap back to the mound for the final out.
T.R. Miller officially wrapped up a playoff spot Tuesday when it posted a 9-1 road win over the Straughn Tigers.
T.R. Miller pitchers Baxley Raines, Allen Williams and Mackie Jackson combined on a three-hitter with 13 strikeouts. Raines went the first three innings, allowed one hit, and struck out seven for the win.
A three-run top of the first inning proved to be all the visiting Tigers needed. Tanner Shehan was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on an RBI double by Williams. Raines helped his own cause with an RBI single that made it 2-0. Raines later scored the third run of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Jackson.
After Straughn scored its lone run, an unearned run, in the bottom of the third to pull within 3-1, T.R. Miller broke the game open with a four-run uprising in the top of the fourth. After Wade McCall started the one-out rally with a double, Brice Martin muscled up for his first homer of the season to make it 5-1. Mikel Riggs started more trouble for Straughn with a single followed by a stolen base. Tanner Shehan reached on a fielder's choice, while Williams walked to load the bases. One run scored when a ball hit by Raines was misplayed, and the same happened one batter later on a ball hit by Becker Denton to make it 7-1.
The lead went to 8-1 in the fifth inning when Riggs was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on a single by Shehan. The visiting Tigers got their last run in the sixth when Raines doubled in front of an RBI double by Jackson.
The Tigers travel to Excel Tuesday for a 4 p.m. doubleheader.
Tuesday's game
T.R. Miller 300 411 0 – 9 9 2
Straughn 001 000 0 – 1 3 3
Friday's game
T.R. Miller 110 100 0 – 3 2 1
Clarke County 000 000 2 – 2 4 0