Golden Tigers make area champs
By Brannon King for the FCT
The Russellville Golden Tigers claimed their third-straight area championship with a thrilling, come-from-behind win over the East Limestone Indians at Russellville High School Thursday.
With the score tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning of the first game of a double header, Houston Kitterman hit a game-winning home run to make Russellville the Class 5A, Area 16 champions. With a 5-1 record in area play and the championship comes the advantage of hosting the first round of the playoffs against No. 8 in Class 5A, Mortimer Jordan.
Russellville trailed 1-0 in the first inning and found it hard to score off of East Limestone’s Austin Nichols, until Cody Greenhill stepped to the plate and hit a home run to tie the score in the sixth inning. Chad Wray pitched all seven innings for RHS and got the win. He allowed only two hits and struck out six East Limestone Indians.
“I’m proud of how those guys responded,” Russellville head coach Chris Heaps said. “We always believe that we’re in the game, and we don’t give up. We play all seven innings and see what happens.
“We’re hosting the first round of playoffs, and that was our primary goal.”
Russellville’s Colin Garrison and Russ Carpenter had hits in the game. Judd Ward and Jeff Lloyd also reached base on walks.
Russellville 7, East Limestone 2
Before claiming the area title Thursday, the Golden Tigers defeated the Indians at East Limestone April 11.
RHS led 6-0 before East got on the scoreboard with two runs in the bottom of the second inning. RHS added an insurance run in the fifth to finish off the scoring. Russellville had six hits in the game, and the home run hitting duo of Greenhill and Kitterman struck for long balls in this game. Greenhill had three RBIs, while Kitterman and Tom Barkley Scott had one each.
Judd Ward went 2-3, including a double, a walk and two runs scored. Skylar Holland had a double, and Colin Garrison walked twice and scored two runs.
Greenhill pitched a complete game and gave up one earned run and struck out 12. He allowed four hits and walked two batters.
Russellville 14, East Limestone 4
In the second game of the day at RHS against the Indians April 13, the Golden Tigers dominated. It was a contest that would have served as a tie-breaker in the area standings if needed, but RHS had already claimed the title, and East was already eliminated from playoff contention, with the Russellville win earlier in the day.
Russellville outhit ELHS 12-5 and led at one point 10-0 in the five-inning game. Noah Gist hit two home runs, and Landon Ezzell also hit one over the fence for RHS. Other Golden Tigers that had hits included Garrison (2), Kitterman (2), Judd Ward (1), Brock Malone (1), Holland (1), Carpenter (1) and Scott (1). Carpenter’s and Kitterman’s hits were doubles.
Rudy Fernandez got the win on the mound after Holland got the start. Holland pitched two scoreless innings and gave up only one hit. Fernandez pitched two innings of relief and struck out four. Brock Malone pitched the final scoreless inning and had one strike out.
Russellville 8, Grissom 7
On Senior Day at RHS April 15, the No. 3 in Class 5A Golden Tigers swept a double header against the No. 7 ranked in Class 7A Grissom Tigers of Huntsville. Russellville took the first game in a back-and-forth battle, in which the two teams combined for 21 hits.
Greenhill continued his hot hitting with a home run, and he went 3-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored and was walked once intentionally. Scott also hit a home run for Russellville and had three RBIs. Judd Ward had two stolen bases and went 2-2 at the plate, including a triple. He drove in a run, and he walked once. Garrison and Greenhill had doubles, while Ezzell drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Holland, Carpenter and Kitterman also hit safely for RHS.
Holland got the win on the mound by pitching five innings of relief. He came in after Greenhill started and pitched the first two innings.
Russellville 13, Grissom 3
Russellville finished off Senior Day with a five-inning win over GHS. The Golden Tigers scored four runs in the first inning to get off to a fast start.
Sid Willis got the start on the mound and the win by pitching 3.2 innings. He gave up three runs on six hits and struck out three. Jaret Ward finished the game off in relief by allowing no hits or runs in just over an inning of work.
Garrison and Greenhill hit home runs while Wray, Fernandez and Holland had doubles. Wray got the start at first base after only seeing action as a key starting pitcher for RHS all season and excited his teammates and the crowd by going 2-2 at the plate. He also had a walk and a run scored.
Carpenter had a big game, going 3-3 with three RBIs. Scott (2), Fernandez (2), Holland (1), Kitterman (1) and Ezzell (1) had hits. Gist and Judd Ward were both hit by pitches, and Ward also walked and scored two runs. Malone added two RBIs for Russellville (27-8).