• 46°
franklin county times

It’s been unbelievable’

The Golden Tigers reach out for the blue map honoring their second-straight state baseball win.
The Golden Tigers reach out for the blue map honoring their second-straight state baseball win.

By Brannon King

For the FCT

It is often said in baseball that good pitching beats good hitting, and Russellville had it in Montgomery for the team’s state title defense.  After losing game one of the series against Faith Academy 9-1, the Golden Tigers sent their pair of Austins (Bohannon and Kitterman) to the mound in games two and three, and the seniors made sure the blue map trophy was heading north on Interstate 65 after the series instead of south.

The Golden Tigers dog pile in celebration of their two-time state champ status.
The Golden Tigers dog pile in celebration of their two-time state champ status.

The defending state champions traveled to Montgomery took two games out of three against the Faith Academy Rams of Mobile. With back-to-back titles, the Golden Tigers finished the season with a school record 48-7, tying them with the Cullman team of 2007 for second-most wins in state history.

1_baseball3

“There’s not even words to describe how I feel and how I know my family feels right now,” Kitterman said after the game. “God’s just been so good to me and to my family. I’m speechless why he’s been so good to me, but I know he’s got a plan for my life and also for these guys sitting beside me, so I know I’m so blessed.”

Facing elimination in game two, eventual MVP Austin Bohannon was confident he was going to keep the Golden Tigers alive, and he carried that message to Kitterman after RHS fell in the opening game. “We were having a talk, and I told him, ‘I’m going to get you to game three, and you’re going to win game three,’” Bohannon said. “I said, ‘We’re not going down like this; there’s no way that we’re supposed to end it like this.’”

The left-hander was true to his word. He pitched a complete-game shutout and allowed only one hit and showed plenty of confidence and fire to prove to Faith that the real Golden Tiger team had arrived at Riverwalk Stadium, and they meant business. After winning game two by a 3-0 score, it was Kitterman’s turn in the decisive game three. Kitterman came through and pitched all seven innings and got the win by a 5-3 score, and the celebration was on in the middle of the diamond for the second year in a row.

Game one of the series took place Thursday at Paterson Field, and it looked as though some other players had stolen Russellville’s uniforms and took the field in place of the usual Golden Tiger team. RHS was out of sync and just didn’t play like themselves.  Ace pitcher Cody Greenhill, who was outstanding all season long, just didn’t have his best stuff, and his defense behind him didn’t either. Russellville committed six errors in the game and lost 9-1. RHS only managed two hits, one of which was a Greenhill home run that cleared the tall wall in left. Faith pitcher William Freeman struck out ten and got the win for the Rams.

With Friday came a change of venue, and the Russellville team that had shown itself to be superior all year long finally found its way to Riverwalk Stadium.

In game two of the series, Bohannon outdueled Faith’s Reece Ewing, and the Golden Tigers pulled even at one game apiece. RHS scored three runs on three hits. Reed Smith scored the first run when he came home on a wild pitch in the first inning. Smith then drove in runs two and three with a double in the fifth inning.

RHS jumped out in front in the bottom of the first in game number three. Landon Oliver had an RBI double to make it 2-0, and then he later scored on a balk to give RHS a 3-run lead. Faith then battled back to tie the game with two runs in the second and one in the third. Judd Ward had a triple in the fifth inning and then scored on a wild pitch. Colin Garrison then added a late insurance run with an RBI hit in the sixth.

Ward (2), Oliver (2), Smith (1), Kitterman (1), Garrison (1) and Landon Ezzell (1) all had hits for RHS in the title-winning game three.

Russellville Coach Chris Heap said he couldn’t say enough about his team’s work ethic and “the outstanding talent that they have displayed,” he said.  “It’s been unbelievable.”

x