The top-ranked Hartselle Tigers went on the road for the second round of the state playoffs as they traveled to 6A No. 7 Mountain Brook last Friday.
The Tigers (33-4) once again proved why they are the top-ranked team in 6A and arguably one of the best teams in the state as they ended another series with a sweep. They defeated the Spartans (24-10) 6-2 and 5-1 to move on to the third round later this week.
“I am proud of our guys for going on the road and beating an outstanding Mountain Brook team,” said Hartselle coach Willam Booth. “Our pitching did a great job and we played outstanding defense to get the win.”
Hartselle’s pitching led the way with complete games from Auburn signees William Turner and Elliott Bray. The two combined for 20 strikeouts in the two-game series while allowing three runs.
Game One: Hartselle 6, Mountain Brook 2
The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead following the first inning and never trailed in their series-opening win over the Spartans. The first four batters in the Hartselle lineup reached base, with Eli Tidwell and JoJo Williamson scoring runs.
Hartselle added two more runs in the second inning when Williamson singled and plated Walker Hoyle and Cade Miles to extend the Tigers’ lead to 4-1. They added a run in the sixth when Bray hit a home run and one in the seventh when Coleman Mizell scored on a Brodie Morrow single.
Williamson was 1-of-3 with two RBIs and a run scored, while Morrow was 1-of-4 with two RBIs to lead Hartselle. Bray was 1-of-3 with a home run, and Cam Palahach was 2-of-3 with a double.
Turner got the start and went the distance, pitching seven innings and allowing two runs on six hits while striking out 11.
Game two: Hartselle 5, Mountain Brook 1
Bray was the star for the Tigers in their series-clinching win over the Spartans. He pitched a complete game, going seven innings and allowing one run on six hits while striking out nine. He also went 3-for-3 in the batters’ box with four RBIs and a double.
The Tigers plated two in the second to grab an early 2-0 lead. Morrow tripled to open the second inning and scored two batters later when Bray brought him home with a single up the middle. A couple of batters later, Greyson Howard scored on a Tidwell single.
Hartselle extended the lead to 4-0 in the third inning when Bray singled to left, plating Mizell and Morrow. Then, they pushed the lead to 5-0 when Bray doubled to right field, driving Morrow home from second base.
Morrow finished 2-of-2 with three runs scored, while Tidwell, Williamson, Peyton Steele, and Mizell had hits.
What’s next for the Tigers?
Hartselle will travel to Buckhorn (27-11) for a three games series starting Friday. The Bucks advanced to the Elite 8 with a two-game sweep on the road at Pell City, winning 9-6 and 1-0. Buckhorn finished runner up in 6A Area 16 behind Hazel Green.
“Buckhorn is an excellent baseball team. They return a lot of players who saw action in our 1st round matchup last year,” said Booth. “They are really talented and are playing as good as anyone now.”
The Tigers and Bucks played last season in the first round, with Hartselle sweeping the series.