Hartselle sweeps Muscle ShoalsPublished 6:00am Saturday, April 19, 2014
MUSCLE SHOALS – Hartselle needed some late-game heroics by junior Tyler Cook and an outstanding pitching effort by Dakota Fowler to lift the Tigers over Muscle Shoals 3-2, clinching a sweep of the Trojans in the first round of the Class 5A State Playoffs Friday night.
With two on and one out in bottom of the sixth inning, Cook put Hartselle ahead for good with a two-run triple, taking advantage of a walk by Brett Blackwood and a single by Daniel Conley.
That was all that Fowler needed, as the senior recorded four of his five strikeouts in the final two stanzas. He only allowed one hit with no walks over 95 pitches despite allowing two unearned runs.
For a time, it looked like Hartselle might waste Fowler’s performance due to those Muscle Shoals runs. Both were scored due to three Hartselle errors.
“We kind of threw him in the river (with those errors),” said head coach William Booth. “But we stepped up and made some hits at the right time. We have so many young guys out here, but they made plays.”
Right after Hartselle gave up the lead in the fourth inning, the Tigers held a team meeting.
“After we won the first game, we looked like we thought we had won the series,” Fowler said. “We just decided that we had to step up right then.”
One of the key plays that may have sparked the comeback came in the top of the fifth inning. Jorden Robinson robbed a Trojan hitter of a base hit after he laid out to catch a line drive.
From that point, no Trojan batter reached first base.
Then freshman Brady Netherton put Hartselle on the board by driving in sophomore Zeth Malcolm on a hit, setting up Fowler and Cook’s heroics.
In the first game, Jake Nelson did his job shutting down the Trojans, by striking out four in a 12-1, six-inning win over Muscle Shoals. He allowed one earned run on five hits with three walks.
The Tigers then took advantage of 11 walks and 10 hits to end the game in the sixth inning.
Tanner Oakes, Hayden Bradford and Zeth Malcolm each had two hits. Blackwood, Conley, Cook and Tate Mathis all had hits. Netherton, Mathis and Malcolm also drew two walks each.
Mathis and Robinson also drove in two runs each while Oakes, Bradford, Blackwood, Cook and Malcolm added RBIs.
The win sets up a rematch at Cullman next week. Fowler said he wasn’t looking past tonight.
“I hadn’t thought about it,” Fowler said. “We’re going to enjoy this one tonight before we look ahead to the next round.”