Tigers smash four homers at Buckhorn
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
NEW MARKET – The sky was cloudy and gray as game one of the state quarterfinal baseball series between Hartselle and Buckhorn began.
It would prove to be the darkest of days for the home standing Bucks. Hartselle unleashed a storm of six doubles, four home runs and 21 runs.
By storm's end the Tigers had a two-game sweep and a trip to the semi-finals while Buckhorn's season was over.
The home runs gave Hartselle a total of six in four playoff games matching their entire regular season total.
Coach William Booth credited the player's effort in practice for the long balls.
"We've been working on hitting so much lately," Booth said. "And everyone has been bad-mouthing us. Saying we can't hit. But we did a great job tonight. We hit some shots that were deep fly balls that could have fallen in. We just hit the ball hard all night."
"I think we are just seeing the ball better this time of year," said Logan Whitlow, who homered in the first three-playoff games this year. "I think the whole team is seeing the ball really well right now."
After a scoreless first inning, Hartselle got on the board first in the top of the second. David Cameron opened the inning with a double down the line in right.
Chris Kohlenberg then bunted for a base to give the Tigers runners on first and third. After a strikeout, Seth Watson singled to center to score Cameron and give Hartselle a 1-0 lead. Brian Ellis then followed with a double scoring Kohlenberg and giving Hartselle runners on second and third.
The lead would grow to 5-0 when the next batter first baseman Logan Whitlow smashed a towering three-run homer over the left field fence.
Hartselle pushed across three more runs in the third inning for an 8-0 lead. After one out, Cameron laced his second double of the game to right.
Following a strikeout, Chris Wiley singled to right scoring Cameron with the sixth run.
Seth Watson then followed with a double scoring Wiley for a seven-run lead. Watson came home when Ellis collected his second double of the game.
In the fourth the Tigers scored four more for a 12-0 lead. Justin Youngblood, Ja'Cote Ward and Craig Womack walked to load the bases with no outs.
Cameron then singled to center driving in two runs. Womack was thrown out at third base on the play.
After a fly out Cameron moved to second on a passed ball. Wiley then stepped to the plate and drove the first pitch he saw over the fence in center field for a 12-run Tiger lead.
Buckhorn responded in the bottom of the fourth with their only three runs of game. The runs came off reliever Andrew Watson who relieved starter Zack Andrews.
Watson came on in the fourth after Andrews picked up his third playoff win of the season in nine days.
Andrews (13-4) struck out seven in three innings and allowed only two hits.
Buckhorn took the lead first with a single run in the first inning. In the second inning they added three more runs for a 4-0 lead that brought the home crowd to life.
A Tiger rally in the next half inning silenced the crowd.
David Cameron singled back through the middle to start the inning. Chris Kohlenberg then reached on a throwing error by the Buckhorn shortstop. The throw into foul ground in right allowed Cameron to score the first Hartselle run.
Chris Wiley then walked to give the Tigers runners on first and second. Brian Ellis then singled to bring Kohlenberg home and cut the lead in half.
After two outs, Justin Youngblood singled to score Wiley and send pinch runner Nick Bates to third.
Youngblood then stole second base on the next pitch to put Tigers on second and third. Ja'Cote Ward then singled to center driving in both Bates and Youngblood and giving Hartselle a lead it would never lose.
The score remained 5-4 in the Tigers favor until the fifth inning.
After one out Cameron doubled to right followed by a Kohlenberg walk to give Hartselle two base runners. After a strikeout, Seth Watson smashed a drive deep over the fence for three-run homer and a four-run lead.
The last Tiger run came in the sixth inning when Ward homered to center.
Buckhorn would add one run in the seventh inning, but it wouldn't be enough as Hartselle moves on for a semi-finals rematch with Cullman.
Hartselle will host the best-of-three series starting May 7 at 5 p.m.