Hartselle takes down CullmanPublished 12:41pm Monday, April 29, 2013
CULLMAN – Extra innings were extra special for Hartselle against Cullman.
The Tigers won the opening game 3-0 in eight innings and then had a nine-run eighth inning to clinch the series 14-5 in Game 3.
In addition to that, Hartselle head coach William Booth recorded his 900th win and Brett Blackwood got his 93rd hit of the season, which sets a new state record according to the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s website.
In the clinching game, Deacon Aldridge helped break the game open with a two-RBI single in the top of the eighth inning, giving Hartselle a 7-5 lead. That play was set up by Tyler Phillips, whose sacrifice bunt moved runners to second and third with just one out.
After Aldridge broke up a double play attempt, the Tigers rolled off seven consecutive hits, highlighted by Aaron Lamb’s two-run home run.
“I think Aaron’s home run was the big play,” Aldridge said of the homer that put Hartselle up 11-5. “It really put Cullman away.”
From there, Colton Ord pitched his third shutout inning to get the win. In relief of Aldridge, Ord allowed two hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Aldridge gave up three earned runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
Booth said there were so many heroes in the series that helped the Tigers beat Cullman on their home field in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
“We just had so many guys step up and make plays,” Booth said. “It’s special to be able to beat Cullman like this in the playoffs. The Cullman coaches are good friends. They players know each so well. It really means a lot to them to get this win.”
But the key to the series was the crucial win in Game 1. Hartselle ace Jackson Smith proved just why he would be pitching for the South Carolina Gamecocks next year.
He pitched an eight-inning shutout, out-dueling Cullman’s Jordan Guthrie in Hartselle’s 3-0 win.
Smith said this is the first time he’s pitched an eight-inning game.
“Last week against Russellville was the first time I had pitched a complete game since injuring my ACL,” Smith said. “It’s just awesome to be able to win this game, especially against Cullman.”
Smith gave credit to his defense for helping pitch the shutout.
“There were a couple of times where the defense got double plays to help me out,” Smith said. “It was great knowing that they had my back. It was a team victory.”
One of those key double plays came in the sixth inning when Cullman had two on with one outs. Zane Hamlett, Blackwood and Easton Chenault combined to turn the double play to end the inning. Blackwood and Chenault combined for another double play in the second inning.
Brown also caught a runner stealing in the bottom of the first inning to prevent an early scoring opportunity.
In the top of the eighth, Hartselle finally got on the board, taking advantage of two Cullman errors, allowing Aldridge to score. Ord then drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single.
Keegan Thompson racked up 16 strikeouts to keep Cullman alive in the Bearcats’ 3-1 win, tying the series at 1-1.
Aldridge, Chenault and Blackwood all had two hits apiece in the loss, but no other Tiger could touch Thompson. Blackwood drove in Aldridge for Hartselle’s only run.
Levi Tapscott took the loss, allowing one earned run on three hits. Starter Tillman Landers struck out three batters but gave up five walks. Jake Whitt also had two strikeouts.
But in the clinching game, Aldridge keyed the hitting attack, going 3-for-5 with four RBIs. Blackwood, Lamb and Blake Slayton each had two hits apiece. Blackwood, Brown, Lamb and Zane Hamlett each drove in two runs.
The Tigers will now host Homewood in the playoff series. Game 1 begins at 5 p.m. on Friday.