Golden Tigers advance, face Etowah Friday
By Brannon King for the FCT
The Russellville Golden Tigers swept Arab in a couple of road games Friday night to advance to the third round of the Class 5A baseball playoffs.
Russellville (32-9) took game one by a 13-2 score and routed the Knights in game two 13-3 in front of a large crowd. In the four playoff game victories so far this season for RHS, the Golden Tigers have outscored their opponents by a combined run total of 44-8.
The top of the RHS batting order got things going right at the start of game one. Colin Garrison led off with a hit in the top of the first inning, and Judd Ward followed with a deep home run to right field. Later in the inning, Landon Ezzell smacked a double to drive in a run, and RHS had an early 3-0 lead. The quick advantage proved to be more than Cody Greenhill would need, as the right-hander pitched all six innings, allowing two hits, and the two runs scored by Arab were unearned. Greenhill struck out eight and walked two Knights.
The Golden Tigers outhit Arab in the first game 17-2. Garrison and Ward each had four hits in five at-bats to lead the Russellville attack. Ward had two doubles to go along with his home run and five RBIs, while Garrison drove in one, and both players scored three times. Greenhill was 2-2 with two RBIs to help his own cause. Houston Kitterman and Tom Barkley Scott both went 2-4, while Russ Carpenter and Rudy Fernandez also added RHS hits in the form of doubles.
Game two also featured good hitting from Russellville, but it included some tense moments in the fifth inning. RHS held a 5-1 lead to start the frame, but Arab put together a threat by loading the bases off of Russellville starter Chad Wray. Arab scored on a walk with one, out and then Fernandez was called in to try and stop the rally. He walked the first batter he faced to make the score 5-3. Then the junior pitched out of the jam with the help of a defensive play by Ezzell on a tough ground ball.
“You bring in a young pitcher with the bases loaded, and you never know exactly what you might get in that situation,” Russellville head coach Chris Heaps said. “He’s done a good job for us, but most of the time, he’s come into clean innings. Getting out of that and taking him right back down to the bullpen and getting him right was huge. Our pitching coach, Coach Fuller, works with our pitchers mostly at this time of the year … He did a good job of getting him back into the zone.”
Heaps also liked what he saw defensively from his shortstop. “Landon Ezzell had a great game at shortstop on defense. He made some big plays on a lot of balls that he had to come in and attack the ball.”
The series win by the Golden Tigers advances Russellville to round three starting May 5, when they will host the Etowah Blue Devils.