The Hartselle Tigers once again proved why they are the top-ranked team in 6A after going on the road and sweeping Buckhorn.
After falling to the Tigers in the first round of last year’s playoffs, the Bucks were looking for revenge. They advanced to the third round with series wins on the road at Jasper and Pell City.
“I am proud of our team for their fight and competitiveness tonight,” said Hartselle coach William Booth. “Our pitching was good, and our hitters continued to pressure the defense in each at-bat.”
Game one: Hartselle 6, Buckhorn 4
The Tigers showed their resiliency in the opening game of the series as they battled back from a 4-1 deficit to get a 6-4 victory.
Hartselle scored a run in the top of the third but saw the Bucks score four unearned runs in the bottom of the third to grab a 4-1 lead.
The Tigers scored once in the fourth on a Cam Palahach single that drove home Brodie Morrow to make the score 4-2. They tied it at 4-4 in the fifth when Morrow’s double plated JoJo Williamson and Peyton Steele.
Coleman Mizell gave the Tigers a 6-4 lead with a two-run home run to right field that drove Steele home. Mizell finished the game 1-of-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Steele was 2-of-2 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Morrow was 2-of-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Eli Tidwell and Williamson also scored a run.
Auburn signee Will Turner pitched his second consecutive, complete game in picking up the win. He allowed four runs on three hits while striking out nine.
Game two: Hartselle 5, Buckhorn 0
Elliott Bray showed why he is one of the top pitchers in the state in game two of the quarterfinals series. He pitched his second complete game and earned his third win of the playoffs. He struck out 14 Buckhorn hitters while allowing one hit and walking one in the Tigers’ 5-0 win.
Steele starred at the plate for Hartselle, finishing 2-of-2 with four RBIs on a home run and a triple. He drove in Tidwell in the first inning with a triple and then plated Brody Leathers and Tidwell with a three-run home run in the second.
Tidwell finished 2-of-4 with two runs, an RBI, and a stolen base, while Bray was 2-of-3. Mizell was 1-of-2 with two stolen bases.
“I am proud of how Turner and Bray competed for us in this series,” said Hartselle assistant coach Jake Miles. “They give a chance to win every time they are on the mound.”
Hartselle (35-4) will host Hazel Green (25-14) in the 6A semifinals with two games on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Game three will be at noon on Saturday if needed.
Hazel Green has won six consecutive games heading into the semifinals matchup. The Trojans have four common opponents with the Tigers. Hartselle went 8-0 in those games while Hazel Green was 5-4.
Hartselle is 13-1 in home games, while Hazel Green is 8-8 on the road.