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franklin county times

Big second inning sends Tigers past Bulldogs

By Staff
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
RED BAY - Things were going so well for Red Bay in Monday's second inning against Belgreen that even a miscommunication resulted in a perfectly executed squeeze play.
The Tigers sent 12 men to the plate and scored eight runs in the second, and three pitchers combined on a one-hitter as Red Bay earned its first win of the season with a 10-0 victory over the Bulldogs on a cold, blustery afternoon.
The Tigers (1-2) broke the game open early, thanks in part to some inadvertent "small ball."
A run was already in and Brandon Brown was on third base with one out in the bottom of the second when Brent Sartin thought he saw coach Donnie Hastings flash the bunt sign.
"I didn't think I did, but Brent says he saw it," Hastings said afterwards. "That's the second time that's happened this year, so I guess we're going to have to work on our signals or something. But it worked out perfectly."
Sartin dropped a gorgeous bunt down the third base line and beat it out for an infield hit as Brown scored easily to make it 2-0.
The proverbial floodgates then opened wide as the Tigers followed with four consecutive hits off Belgreen freshman Justin Gardner.
"We got a couple of bunts down that inning, but we hit the ball pretty well, too," Hastings said. "And Belgreen had a pretty good little pitcher going for them."
Sammy Thigpen plated Sartin with a triple down the right field line, and Kurt Kennedy's RBI single made it 4-0.
Kennedy then swiped his second base of the afternoon and scored on a single by Byron Hellums to make it 5-0.
Hellums moved up to second on the Bulldogs' third error of the inning and scored on an RBI double by Bradley Long that one-hopped the left-field fence.
Randy Lowery then drew a walk and stole second, and Brown capped off the inning with a two-run single to center to give Red Bay an 8-0 lead.
"We got beat in an inning-and-a-half, and it was inexperience that got us beat," first-year Belgreen coach Derek Ergle said. "We really beat ourselves. We made some key errors that inning, and I felt like if we hadn't made those we might have been able to keep the game close."
Chad Nichols led off the bottom of the second with a walk and took second on an errant pickoff throw by Gardner. After a wild pitch moved him to third, Nichols scored the game's first run when Gardner threw wildly to first on a comebacker by Brown.
Morgan Stanfield bunted Brown to third, and Sartin's surprise squeeze got things rolling for Red Bay.
"Some of those balls they hit were either in the gap or off the wall," Ergle said. "There's not much you can do about those."
The Tigers added two more runs in the third when Hellums doubled home Thigpen and Kennedy scored on a wild pitch, and Red Bay's pitching staff took care of the rest.
Long, Lowery and Brown combined to allow just one hit and strike out 10 in five innings of work.
"All of our pitchers threw pretty well today," Hastings said. "Bradley threw some the other day, and I really wanted to get Randy some mound work today. I could have stayed with Bradley or Randy longer, but we had the lead and that allowed me to pitch everybody the way I wanted to. We wanted to let Brandon pitch some, too, and he looked good."
Long (1-0) earned the win after allowing just one hit and striking out three in two scoreless innings.
Lowery pitched well in relief, striking out five and walking two in two hitless frames.
Brown struck out two in a perfect fifth inning.
A one-out single in the first by Jonathan Snipes was Belgreen's only hit of the night.
"Our hitting is weak right now," Ergle said. "We spent most of our time in the preseason working on defense, because we made a lot of errors last season. We can see now that hitting is something we're going to have to focus on, too."
Gardner took the loss, but he did record six strikeouts in three innings of work. Nathan Hamilton retired Red Bay in order in the bottom of the fourth.
Hellums finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and Thigpen was 2-for-2 with two runs scored.
Kennedy scored a pair of runs, and Brown had two RBIs.
Both teams will be back in action Friday, with Red Bay hosting Jumpertown (Miss.) and Belgreen (0-1) traveling to face Vina.
Monday's game did not count as an area game. Red Bay and Belgreen will play their two area games on April 4-5.

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