Tigers trump Lions for title
By By Todd Thompson, Hartselle Enquirer
MONTGOMERY - With a glove full of state championships and the expectations tend to get into some lofty air.
That’s life around Hartselle baseball.
The program that had won six state titles since 1990 - but none since the 2000 season - returned to its baseball throne by beating Briarwood Christian 8-3 and 4-0 Thursday night at Riverwalk Stadium to wrap up the school’s seventh baseball crown under head coach William Booth.
The Tigers needed a sweep after losing the opener a day earlier in a 2-1 pitching duel that featured just four hits.
Hartselle finished its season with a 50-9 record, the most wins by a high school baseball team in state history. And some of the Tiger players were ready to add their names to the list of state championship teams at Hartselle.
Bole slammed a 3-run homer in the third inning of the deciding game of the series that easily cleared the fence in right field and ended up in a grassy knoll some 20 feet beyond the fence.
It was Bole’s 20th homer of the season _ tying the state record set by Bo Jackson when he was playing for McAdory 27 years ago _ gave the Tigers a cushion that Garrett Turrentine would not relinquish.
Of his 20 home runs, the last of his high school career will always stand out for Bole.
Turrentine and Chad Girodo gave Hartselle two complete game wins to seal the championship.
Turrentine scattered four hits over seven innings to get the win in the clincher, facing just 27 batters. He had seven strikeouts.
Girodo, one of the state’s premier pitchers, helped Hartselle force a third and deciding game with a six-hitter against the Lions to improve to 17-1 on the season, one shy of the state record.
Girodo, Bole and Turrentine won a combined 39 games for the Tigers this year.
In the championship series, Hartselle pitchers limited Briarwood Christian to just five runs and 12 hits, far below the Lions’ average of nine runs per game.
Turrentine has seen limited action on the mound since the Tigers reached post-season play. Through the first four playoff matchups, the senior was limited to appearances out of the bullpen.
Turrentine just put his faith in the Tigers’ offense and dominated Briarwood’s lineup.
Briarwood Christian finished its season with a 31-9 mark after losing its first back-to-back games of the season after beating the Tigers a day earlier with just one hit as ace Ben Bracewell beat Bole 2-1.
“If we run into team that beats us two games in a row, we tip our hats to them. They were better than us,” Hall said. “Hartselle deserved to win the state championship and we deserved to be the runnerup. If anybody could beat us twice in a row, they’re a pretty good baseball team and that’s what happened today.”
Hartselle scored four runs in the first two innings to give Girodo a solid cushion in the second game of the series.
Bole had an RBI double in the first to score Zach Waddell for the early lead.
The Tigers added three more in the second inning off David Woods - a reliever pushed into duty to save the Lions’ second and third starters for Game 3 - with three hits and a Briarwood error.
Briarwood Christian trimmed the lead to 5-2 with runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but the Lions never got any closer.
Waddell, who finished with three hits in the win, drove a double to left to score two runs for the Tigers. Josh Doyle scored the final Hartselle run when he scored on a double-play ball in the top of the seventh inning.
Hartselle finished with 11 hits against Woods, who surrendered six earned runs in seven innings of work. Doyle finished with three hits in the win, while Bole added two hits. David Reeves, Walton Ashwander and Nick Howard also added hits for Hartselle.
The win then set the stage for Turrentine.
The little-used pitcher allowed just seven baserunners in the series-clinching win.
Hartselle scored the game’s first run in the top of the second inning when Josh Slaten - pinch running for Turrentine - scored on a ground out by Taylor Nelson.
But the game’s big blow came in the third when Bole ignited the Hartselle fans with a mammoth shot over the rightfield fence to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead. The record-tying homer brought a deafening roar from the large Hartselle contigent and helped give Turrentine some room to work.
Turrentine allowed just three baserunners over the final five innings after pitching out of a jam in the second with a lineout to second with runners at first and third.
Bole finished with two of the three Hartselle hits. Turrentine had the only other hit in the win.
Hartselle had 10 baserunners in the win over Logan Crook, who lasted just 2.2 innings before being relieved by Evan Simmons in the third inning.
But by the time Simmons got to the mound, Hartselle fans were already getting geared up for the celebration that erupted when Turrentine got Matthew Furuto to pop up to Ashwander at second.