Brilliant series overshadowed by a controversial call in Hartselle’s championship loss
The Hartselle Tigers, who were playing for their 9th state championship, fell just short in their 2-1 series loss to Faith Academy in Montgomery.
It looked like the Tigers would be bringing home the state championship when Peyton Steele scored the would be game-winning run on a sacrifice fly by JoJo Williamson. The Hartselle dugout emptied and dogpiled Williamson in celebration.
Just seconds later, the thrill of victory changed to the agony of defeat as Steele was ruled out for leaving the base early. When the call was made, the Tigers stood in disbelief, and the Faith dugout erupted in cheers.
Steele’s out was the third out of the inning and meant that the game would head to extra innings. But by this time, the damage was done as this one call deflated the Tigers as they took the field for the top of the eighth.
Hartselle gave up seven runs in the top of the eighth, and Faith would hold the Tigers scoreless in the bottom of the inning to secure the State Championship.
Game 1: Faith 10, Hartselle 1
Faith took the opening game of the series with a 10-1 win on Monday night. A six-run third propelled the Rams to victory. William Turner took the loss after giving up nine runs in five innings of work. Five of the runs were unearned as the Hartselle defense committed four errors to allow the runs to score. Turner, an Auburn commit, gave up seven hits and struck out three. Carter Borden pitched the final two innings in relief and gave up a run on two hits while striking out two.
Game 2: Hartselle 8, Faith 3
The Tigers bounced back in Game 2 with an 8-3 win Wednesday afternoon. It was the offense’s time to shine as they collected nine hits, including a home run and three doubles off Faith pitchers Parker Carlson, an Auburn signee, and Gatlin Montgomery. Brodie Morrow’s three-run double in the top of the sixth blew open the game, giving Hartselle an 8-3 lead. Coleman Mizell had a home run, two RBIs, and a run scored. Drew Cartee and Peyton Steele each had two hits and a run scored. Elliott Bray picked up the win after going five innings, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out four. Colby Widner pitched two scoreless innings in relief and struck out three with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 6th.
Game 3: Faith 14, Hartselle 7
Hartselle battled back from two separate 3-run deficits but fell short of the ultimate goal in the loss. Faith jumped out 3-0 in the first. The Tigers finally got on the board with four runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 4-3 lead. The Rams extended their lead to 7-4 with runs in the fourth, fifth, and sixth. Hartselle scored three in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 7-7. The teams went to extra innings where the Rams scored seven runs in the top of the eighth to grab the victory. Morrow was 3-for-4 with a home run, five RBIs, and a run scored, while Mizelle was 2-for-5 with a double, two RBIs, and a run scored. Williamson and Snelson each scored two runs. Cartee, Steele, and Segars each had two hits.