Russellville forces championship game tonight
Kim West, Franklin County Times
The Russellville Tigers, an 11-12 All-Stars team, defeated the Sheffield Bulldogs 12-2 last night to force a deciding championship game today at 6 p.m. in the double-elimination Major League District 6 tournament.
Russellville and Sheffield previously played each other in the second round on Saturday, and Sheffield beat Russellville 3-0 to drop the Tigers to the loser's bracket, where Russellville had to beat Tuscaloosa-Central, Tuscumbia and Phil Campbell to make it to the finals against Sheffield.
Sheffield downed Phil Campbell 7-5 on Tuesday and Tuscaloosa-Barnes 14-1 on Saturday to advance to the finals with no losses.
Blake Hyde pitched all five innings for Russellville, and struck out nine hitters while allow just two runs.
Sheffield ace Justin Cantrell took the loss and was hit hard by the Tigers in the third inning. Cantrell allowed seven runs and two walks and hit three batters.
Sheffield scored first in the first inning off a home run by Cantrell to go ahead 1-0.
Russellville left five runners on base in the first and second innings, but the Tigers' bats came alive in the third inning after some wild pitching from Cantrell, who couldn't control his curveball.
Caleb Robison walked to lead off the third and came around to tie the score at 1 when Logan Ezzell was plunked with the bases loaded. Jackson Smith hit a two-run double, Jacob Seal hit an RBI single and Jordan Gist singled up the middle to put the Tigers ahead 5-1.
With the bases loaded again, Robison took a fastball off his right wrist to score Seal. Gist scored again when Hyde was also hit near his pitching hand to put Russellville ahead 7-1.
The Tigers' Cameron Harris singled home Seal in the fourth inning, and Sheffield's Kevin Parnell scored in the fifth to make the score 8-2.
Russellville needed four runs in the bottom of the fifth to end the game early, and the Tigers did it by taking advantage of wild pitching by Sheffield's Blake Worsham. He replaced Tommy Milstead on the mound with Drew Malone on second and Ezzell on first.
Malone scored on a wild pitch, and Ezzell and Smith came around on a double to deep centerfield from Seal to make the score 11-2.
Kelby Hallmark, Russellville's only reserve, came up to bat with one out and Seal on second. Hallmark doubled to bring home Seal, and the game was called short of six innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
All 10 Russellville hitters reached base, and Seal finished with three runs scored and was 3-for-3 with a walk, two singles and a double.
Hyde scored one run and was 2-for-3 with a double and a single.
Smith scored twice and was 1-for-three with a two-run double.