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Tigers fall at Cullman

CULLMAN – One mistake in the final inning was the difference in No. 5 Cullman’s 2-1 win over Hartselle Tuesday.

With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Cullman’s Wesley Walker hit a deep fly ball to right field for an out. Right fielder Deacon Aldridge attempted to throw out Jordan Vass, who was trying to advance to third base on the tag.

However, Aldridge didn’t connect with third baseman Zane Hamlett, and the ball went into the Cullman dugout. By the ground-rule double, Vass was awarded home, giving the Bearcats the key area win.

Hartselle appealed to the umpires that Vass left second base early, but initial ruling stood.

The two teams will play again on Thursday at Reuben Sims Field. The first game count toward the area record. If Hartselle wins, then the area title would be decided by a tiebreaker matchup, which is the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader.

“We just didn’t hit ball when we needed to,” said Hartselle head baseball coach William Booth. “And we let that one ball get away there. It was just disappointing the way that game ended.”

The Tigers got its only run in the second inning, taking advantage of a lead-off walk drawn by Will Swann. Kaleb Jones moved Swann’s pinch runner, Ryan Brown, to second on a sacrifice.

Hamlett drove in Brown on a two-out RBI single.

Although the Tigers committed a pair of errors in the early innings, Hartselle starter Colby Nelson overcame those mistakes and controlled the Cullman bats until the bottom of the sixth inning.

Keegan Thompson drew a leadoff double and then scored on a Jakob Kirkwood hit to tie the game. That ended Nelson’s day as he allowed six hits with four strikeouts in just over five innings of work.

Aaron Wooley finished the game and wound up taking the loss for the Tigers.

After Cullman tied the game, Hartselle had chances score in both the seventh and eighth innings. Dax Gillespie and Jones both had infield hits with two outs to put runners at first and second, but the final Tiger batter struck out.

Then, Brett Blackwood drew a two-out double in the eighth, but another strikeout ended the inning.

The Tigers won the nightcap 6-0, thanks in part to a Gillespie 3-run homer. Tillman Landers got the win.