Tigers hold off WSN to put Blue Eagles in do-or-die spot
Published 2:18 pm Monday, April 16, 2007
By BY BRUCE HIXON – SPORTS EDITOR
The W.S. Neal Blue Eagles are still in a position where they control their fate, but are now in a do-or-die spot. Meanwhile the T.R. Miller Tigers can only sit back, wait and hope.
The Tigers put W.S. Neal in that position and kept their own playoff hopes alive Friday when they rallied for an 8-7 win over the Blue Eagles at the T.R. Miller Field.
The playoff fate for both teams will be determined Tuesday when W.S. Neal (9-11 overall and 3-2 in Class 4A Area 2) plays at Andalusia 4 p.m. Andalusia has already wrapped up the Area championship with a 5-0 league mark and a first-round home playoff game. The Blue Eagles must win that game in order to make the playoffs otherwise the Area's second and final playoff berth will go to T.R. Miller (13-10 overall and 3-3 in Area play). The Blue Eagles and Tigers split their two Area counters, but T.R. Miller owns the tiebreaker game.
The Tigers won the game despite the fact they issued 15 walks and a hit batsman. W.S. Neal left the bases full four times and stranded 14 runners overall.
The Blue Eagles took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning when T.R. Miller pitcher Baxley Raines hit Jacob Cannon with the bases full and followed that up with walks to James Freeman and Josey Brown to force in two more runs.
Hart relieved Raines, who had an RBI single in the bottom of the first, after just one inning in favor of Mackie Jackson. Jackson also had his share of control problems and walked the bases full in his first inning of work, but got out of the frame unscathed.
W.S. Neal extended its lead to 4-1 in the top of the third on an RBI single by Josh Sawyer, but again missed a chance at a big inning. Earlier in the frame Josey Brown walked. Tyler Cross followed with a short dribbler that Jackson threw into right field. Courtesy runner Jimmy Conner came all the way around and was thrown out at the plate on a bang-bang play. The call led to the ejection of Campbell, who was tossed after only a brief dispute with the home plate umpire.
The Tigers pulled even in the bottom of the third. John Mathieu led off with a single against Josey Brown, who had thrown a two-hit shutout against the Tigers earlier in the season. Mathieu scored when Kendall Land's single into right field was misplayed. Seth Holland kept the rally going with an infield hit. Raines then narrowed the gap to 4-3 with an RBI single and Becker Denton hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4.
T.R. Miller took its first lead in the bottom of the fourth when Allen Williams singled, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Jackson.
W.S. Neal responded with the tying and go-ahead runs in the top of the fifth. James Freeman walked and was sacrificed to second by Aaron Nelson. After Josey Brown reached on an infield error, Cross executed a suicide squeeze bunt that plated Freeman to tie the game at 5-5. Jackson then walked Josh Sawyer, Tyler Brown and Cooper in succession to force in Josey Brown and put the Blue Eagles up 6-5.
Once again T.R. Miller came right back in the bottom of the fifth, this time with a three-run rally that put the Tigers ahead for good.
Raines started the rally with his third single of the game. After Becker Denton reached on an error, Will Waters ripped a two-run double into left field that put the Tigers up 7-6. Waters, who took third on a throw home, scored on an RBI groundout by Williams that extended the lead to 8-6.
W.S. Neal, which stranded a runner in scoring position in the sixth, did not go down quietly in its final at-bat in the seventh.
Jackson issued a leadoff walk to Cross, but got Sawyer to hit into a fielder's choice and Tyler Brown to pop up. Cooper brought the Blue Eagles a run closer with an RBI double into leftfield. Jake Smith and Cannon both drew walks to fill the bases. Jackson was able to close the door when he got James Freeman on a called third strike.
At T.R. Miller
W.S. Neal 301 020 1 - 7 5 7
T.R. Miller 103 130 X - 8 10 2
Tigers hold off Excel
T.R. Miller had to hold off a furious seventh inning rally by Excel to edge the visiting Panthers 6-5 Thursday.
The Tigers had a 6-1 lead headed into the seventh, but a walk, an error, a walk, a two-run double by Brett Harris, an RBI double by Josh Waters and another error led to four runs and put the tying and go-ahead runs on base before reliever Derek Busby got Josh Mack to ground out to end the game.
Four Excel errors contributed to most of T.R. Miller's cushion. Allen Williams doubled and scored when Will Waters reached on an error in the first. Waters singled and scored on two errors in the third. Becker Denton walked, Waters ripped an RBI triple and Mackie Jackson hit an RBI groundout in the fifth. A walk to Busby, a single by Seth Holland, a walk to Williams and an error on a ball hit by Becker Denton led to two more runs in the sixth.
James Hamric went the first four innings for the win, as he allowed two hits and one run to go with four strikeouts before Busby went the rest of the way.
At T.R. Miller
Excel 001 000 4 – 5 5 4
T.R. Miller 101 022 X – 6 6 4
Tigers rip Hillcrest
T.R. Miller kept its playoff hopes alive Tuesday with 22-2 pounding of the visiting Hillcrest-Evergreen Jaguars in a game that lasted just four-and-half innings.
The Tigers, who beat Hillcrest 25-0 one week earlier, actually trailed 1-0 until they broke loose with an eight-run rally in the bottom of the second inning.
Stephen Mathews picked up two of his four hits on the day in that inning with an RBI double and an RBI single. James Hamric had arguably the biggest blow of the inning and perhaps the game when his two-run double gave T.R. Miller a 3-2 lead it never relinquished. Corey Williams also had a key contribution during the uprising with an RBI single.
Although Hillcrest got one of those runs back in the top of the third inning and pulled to within 8-2, the Tigers made sure the game would end early in the bottom half of the third. The Tigers sent 15 batters to the plate, 12 of which scored.
Corey Williams had a pair of doubles in the frame, one of which drove in three runs. It was the second and third hits of the game for Williams. John Mathieu also had two hits in the inning, one of which was an RBI single.
Hamric went the first three innings for the win
At T.R. Miller
Hillcrest 101 00 – 2 2 3
T.R. Miller 08(12) 2X - 22 13 2