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Tigers’ season ends at Southside

SOUTHSIDE – Hartselle (37-22) came up  short of making another trip to the Class 5A state championship series, as Southside-Gadsden swept the Tigers 4-2, 6-2 Friday.

During the first three weeks of the playoffs, Hartselle made the plays it needed, whether it was pitching out of a jam or getting clutch hits.

The Tigers had those same situations against the Panthers, but they were unable to make the plays. In particular, the Tigers stranded 11 runners in its final game and only got one hit in 11 at bats with runners in scoring position.

“We just couldn’t get the clutch hits we needed,” said head coach William Booth. “It’s as simple as that. We hit the ball hard several times, but we didn’t have any dink and dunk hits. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

The Tigers also ran into some pitching trouble in the first two innings of the second game. Southside scored five runs on five hits, forcing the Tigers to make a pitching change.

But the Tigers also had opportunities to cut that advantage. Colton Ord walked and Brett Blackwood singled to give Hartselle two on with one out. However, they had a strikeout and ground out to end the threat.

Hartselle even loaded the bases with no outs. Hartselle did manage a run in the second inning, thanks to Easton Chenault’s sacrifice fly to score Kaleb Jones. An infield flyball and a strikeout left two more runners on base.

In the fourth inning, Hartselle had a runner thrown out at home plate on a ground ball.

The Tigers appeared to mount a charge in the seventh inning after Southside’s third baseman dropped a routine flyball when Chris Brown was batting. That allowed Jones to single in Dax Gillespie, Brown’s runner.

That was all they could get as Southside pitcher Andrew Furhlman ended Hartselle’s season on a strikeout.

In Game 1, errors keyed a Southside rally in the fourth-inning to take a 3-1 lead. Tyler Phillips took home plate on a double steal to score the game’s first run in the second inning.

After Southside added a run, the Tigers cut the lead to 4-2 on an RBI double by Austin Spangler in the sixth inning, scoring Jones.

The Tigers then had runners on base in the seventh inning with a chance to tie or take the lead. However, Panthers pitcher Alex Pondick also struck out his final batter to take the first game.