Tigers clinch trip to state playoffs with sweep of Decatur
The Hartselle Tigers continued their dominance over Decatur in their area series sweep this past week. The Tigers defeated the Red Raiders 7-5 and 7-2 in clinching another trip to the 6A state playoffs. Hartselle hasn’t lost to a Red Raider team since 2017.
Game one: Hartselle 7, Decatur 5
The Hartselle Tigers started quickly in game one of their area series with Decatur. The Tigers scored five runs in the first and added two more in the second to take a 7-0 lead.
Eli Tidwell and Coleman Mizell started the bottom of the first with back-to-back doubles that gave Hartselle a 1-0 lead. Cam Palahach singled to drive home Mizell and then Lawson Williams’ single brought home JoJo Williamson for a 3-0 lead. Cade Miles’ single to right brought Walker Hoyl and Williams home to push the lead to 5-0.
Tidwell opened the second inning with a home run, extending the Tigers’ lead to 6-0. Peyton Steele then singled to reach base. England, running for Steele, scored two batters later on Palahach’s second hit of the game.
The Red Raiders battled back with a run in the third and four in the fourth to cut the lead to 7-5. Hartselle helped Decatur in the fourth when the Tigers committed three errors that led to the Red Raiders’ four runs. Neither team scored over the final three innings, with Hartselle holding on for a game-one win.
Decatur’s pitching staff held the Tigers to only two hits over the final five innings, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Tidwell finished with three hits, including two extra-base hits and an RBI. Palahach had two hits and two RBI, while Miles had a hit and two RBI.
Ellis Dickman led Decatur with two hits and two RBI.
Game two: Hartselle 7, Decatur 2
It was another quick start for the Hartselle offense as they scored seven runs in the first while sending 12 batters to the plate.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard when a Williamson single drove home Mizell for a 1-0 lead. Palahach remained hot, driving in Steele with a single to left for a 2-0 lead. With the bases loaded two batters later, Williamson scored on a passed ball. After a Greyson Howard walk loaded the bases again, Miles was hit by a pitch that scored Hoyle. After a Decatur pitching change, Brody Leathers’ sacrifice fly made the score 5-0. Mizell capped off the scoring as he drove home Howard and Miles with a single to right field for a 7-0 lead.
Pitcher Jack Smith was Hartselle’s story for the remainder of the game. He struck out 12 in seven innings, allowing two hits and two runs. The Arkansas signee took a no-hitter into the fifth.
Decatur’s Dickman matched Smith pitch for pitch after entering in the top of the first with the Tigers leading 4-0. He pitched 6 ⅔ innings, allowing no runs and only four hits.
Mizell finished with two hits, two RBI and a run scored, while Williamson added two hits, an RBI and a run scored.
It is now officially Cullman week for the Tigers. The outcome of the Tigers and Bearcat’s series has decided the area the last three seasons, with Cullman winning twice before Hartselle’s win last season.
“Our goal this week is to simply just be the best version of us we can be. We can only control ourselves and will work to do that,” Hartselle coach Jake Miles said. “We are still chasing our best game and series. This week is no different. Coach Patterson does a great job and has a great team. There will be a lot of excitement because of the traditions of both Cullman and Hartselle, and rightfully so, but we will just take it as another opportunity to improve.”
The Tigers are looking to use the Cullman series to jump-start another playoff run and a third consecutive trip to the 6A state championship series.
“We need to use this series to improve and work to get better each game so we are ready for the postseason run,” Miles said.