Tigers punch ticket to semifinals with series win at Oxford
The Hartselle Tigers defeated the Oxford Yellow Jackets in three games – 3-7, 4-1 and 7-0 – this past week to punch their ticket to the 6A state semifinals.
This will be the Tigers’ first trip to the semifinals since 2013, when they won the state championship.
Pitching was the story for Hartselle in all three games. Tiger starters dominated each game of the series. Four errors proved costly in the first game, which led to the only loss.
Game 1: Oxford 7, Hartselle 3
Three Tiger errors led to four unearned runs for Oxford that proved to be the difference in game one.
Oxford scored first with a run in the bottom of the second. Hartselle tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the fourth when Coleman Mizell scored on a wild pitch.
The Yellow Jackets added three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 4-1 lead.
The Tigers cut the lead to 4-3 with two runs in the top of the fifth. After two quick outs, JoJo Williamson started the Hartselle rally with a walk. Glavine Segars walked in the next at bat to give the Tigers runners at first and second.
Eli Snelson singled to right field, driving home Williamson from second. Eli Tidwell, who was running for Segars, scored two batters later when Brodie Morrow walked with the bases loaded.
Oxford added three runs in the bottom of the fifth to make the final score 7-3.
JT Blackwood picked up the loss for Hartselle. He allowed seven runs, three earned, on eight hits while striking out five in 4.2 innings.
Auburn commit William Turner pitched 1.1 innings in relief, allowing no hits.
Game 2: Hartselle 4, Oxford 1
Auburn commit Elliott Bray turned in a strong outing for the Tigers when they needed him most, trailing 1-0 in the series. He allowed one run on three hits while striking out 13 in 6.2 innings of work.
The Tigers jumped out 2-0 when Snelson led off the inning with a double. Mizell then reached base on an Oxford error that allowed Snelson to score.
Mizell stole second and advanced to third on an error by Oxford’s catcher. A Brodie Morrow sacrifice fly brought home Mizell and gave Hartselle a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers added to their lead in the bottom of the third when Snelson scored on a Morrow single. Snelson reached on an error, stole second and advanced to third following Mizell’s infield hit.
Hartselle added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth after Drew Cartee doubled to start the inning. He advanced to third on a Peyton Steele sacrifice bunt and scored on the first pitch of Bray’s at-bat.
Oxford scored one run in the top of the seventh to make the final score 4-1.
Cartee was 2-for-3 with a run scored to lead the Tigers. Snelson was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, while Mizell ended the game 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Game 3: Hartselle 7, Oxford 0
Hartselle pitching was the story of game three. Caleb Pittman and Turner combined to shut out Oxford. They allowed the Yellow Jackets two hits, while striking out 14 Oxford batters.
After two scoreless innings, the Tigers took control of the game with five runs in the top of the third.
Snelson and Mizell walked to get the inning started. Cartee followed with a double to left field that plated Snelson from third base. Steele brought home Mizell and Cartee with a single to right field to make it 3-0.
After a Bray walk, Hartselle had runners at first and second. Gillespie then hit a sac bunt to move the runners to second and third. Steele and Bray then scored on Williamson’s single up the middle to make it 5-0.
The Tigers added two more runs in the top of the fourth to make it 7-0. Morrow and Cartee walked to open the inning, putting runners at first and second.
After two strikeouts, Gillespie had a fly ball misplayed by the Oxford left fielder that allowed Ben Griffin, running for Morrow, and Cartee to score.
Pittman picked up the win after going five shutout innings. He struck out nine batters and gave up one hit.
Turner finished off the game’s final two innings with five strikeouts and one hit allowed.
Williamson was 3-for-4 with two RBIs to lead the Hartselle offense. Steele added a hit and two RBIs while Cartee had a hit, an RBI and two runs scored.
Hartselle (27-13) will host Chelsea (27-16), who defeated Gardendale in the semifinals, in two games Thursday starting at 4 p.m. A third game, if needed, will be played Friday at 5 p.m.
On the other half of the bracket are Northridge and Faith Academy. The winners of the semifinal series will meet in Montgomery May 18-19.