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Tigers win first area championship since 2010 with sweep of Cullman

The top-ranked Hartselle Tigers solidified their ranking heading into the playoffs with a three-game sweep of rival Cullman. The sweep gave the Tigers their first area championship since 2010.

The Tigers used solid pitching and a big inning in each of the three games to break the game open and get the sweep.

Game 1: Hartselle 13, Cullman 3

The Tigers scored three in the third and two in the fourth to grab a 5-0 lead on their way to a 13-3 win on the road at Cullman.

After Cullman cut the lead to 5-2, Hartselle scored seven in the sixth to break the game wide open.

The Tigers got home runs from Peyton Steele, Coleman Mizell and Brodie Morrow to pull away from the Bearcats. Steele was three-of-four with three runs and three RBIs. Mizell was two-of-three with four RBIs and two runs, while Morrow was three-of-five with two runs and two RBIs.

Elliott Bray and Cam Palahach also had a hit and two RBIs.

Will Turner got the start and allowed two earned runs on three hits in 4.1 innings of work in earning the win. Jack Smith and Eli Tidwell combined to strike out five while allowing three hits in 2.2 innings of relief.

Game 2: Hartselle 6, Cullman 1

Bray pitched a complete-game four-hitter in leading the Tigers to a 6-1 win in game two that gave the Tigers an area championship for the first time in 12 seasons. He struck out 10 Cullman batters and allowed one unearned run in the victory. He also had two hits and the game’s first RBI.

With the game tied at one in the bottom of the fifth inning, Hartselle plated five runs to bust open the game. Mizell and Greyson Howard had doubles that plated four of the five runs.

Tidwell, Morrow, Steele, Mizell and JoJo William scored runs for the Tigers. Cade Miles had an RBI.

Game 3: Hartselle 17, Cullman 7

The Tigers found themselves in an unfamiliar place as they trailed Cullman 7-1 going into the bottom of the third inning of game three.

The Bearcats jumped on starter Caleb Pittman, scoring five runs on four hits in the game’s first two innings.

The Tigers showed why they are ranked No. 1 in 6A, however, as they roared back with 16 runs in the final four innings.

They scored four in the third to cut the lead to 7-5, added three in the fourth to grab an 8-7 lead and scored nine in the final two innings to run away from the Bearcats.

Mizell was four-of-four with two home runs, four RBIs and two runs to lead the Hartselle comeback. Steele was one-of-two with a home run, four runs, three RBIs and three walks. Morrow was two-of-five with three RBIs.

Tidwell, Williamson, Howard, Bray and Miles scored two runs.

Isaac Nicholson earned the win after pitching four innings in relief of Pittman. He gave up two runs on two hits while striking out two.

The Tigers have won 14 in a row as they prepare for the opening round of the state playoffs that begin Friday. Hartselle will host Huffman (6-15) in a three-game series.

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