Tigers take Game 3 to advancePublished 1:05pm Monday, April 23, 2012
Fort Payne Times-Journal
FORT PAYNE — Hartselle liked the formula it used to claim a victory in Game 2 of its Class 5A opening-round high school baseball playoff series against Fort Payne so much, the Tigers went back to it for Game 3.
Colton Ord pitched a three-hitter and sixth-ranked Hartselle took command with a three-run first inning en route to an 8-1 win over the Wildcats in the deciding third game Saturday.
The Tigers (33-17) advanced to face area rival No. 4 Cullman in a best-of-three second-round series beginning Friday at Cullman. The Bearcats swept Madison County.
Ord allowed an unearned run and one walk and struck out three.
“That first inning I was a little bit shaky, but I got [through] that, and we put three runs on the board. I felt great,” he said.
After opening Game 2 with a homer Friday, Deacon Aldridge started Saturday’s game with a double down the third-base line.
Ord laid down a sacrifice bunt and raced all the way to second, with Aldridge scoring, when Fort Payne’s pitcher threw the ball away.
Brett Blackwood followed with a homer to left, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
“Best game we’ve played all year,” Hartselle coach William Booth said. “My pitcher pitched good. We hit in the clutch. We had a lot of good things going for us today.”
Fort Payne (25-13) tried it answer in its half of the first.
Alan Smith walked with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch and got caught in a rundown between third and home when Jess Smith singled with two out.
Alan Smith scored when Hartselle’s third basemen threw the ball away, but Blackwood induced a fly out to end the threat.
“He changed speeds just a little bit and threw strikes,” Booth said.
Hartselle added to its advantage in the fifth with the help of two Fort Payne miscues.
Chris Brown reached when the shortstop booted a ball with two out. Austin Spangler followed with a line drive that Fort Payne’s center fielder overran. The ball sailed over his head, and Spangler raced to third with an RBI triple.
Spangler scored on a Kaleb Jones single, pushing the advantage to 5-1.
Hartselle sealed the win with three runs in the sixth, scoring on an error, a double steal and Brown’s RBI single.
Fort Payne swept the Tigers in an opening-round series a year ago and prevailed 8-7 in eight innings in Game 1 on Friday, but Hartselle scored four runs in the first inning of Game 2 and went on to a 5-3 win behind the solid pitching of Jackson Smith.
Ord said the Tigers were already motivated after losing at Fort Payne a year ago, but added the Game 1 loss Friday fired them up even more.
“We saw the goal we set slipping away,” he said. “That right there woke everybody up.”