Tigers sweep Cullman to win area championship
The Hartselle Tigers swept rival Cullman to win another area championship under head coach William Booth. The Tigers, who blew out the Bearcats on their home field on Tuesday, needed to scrape and claw their way through two games on Thursday to win the area.
“Anytime you get a series win against a program like Cullman, it’s a big step in the right direction,” Hartselle assistant coach Jake Miles said. “We have some goals that we want to accomplish each year, and winning the area outright is one of them. However, we mainly focus on us and whether we are playing our best baseball now that the playoffs are starting.”
Game one: Hartselle 11, Cullman 0
Greyson Howard pitched his best game of the year with a one-hit shutout in Hartselle’s 11-0 win over Cullman on the Bearcats’ home field. Howard held the Bearcats to just one hit over five innings while striking out three.
Peyton Steele homered and had two RBI, while Coleman Mizell added two hits and two RBIs. Howard helped his cause with two hits, including a double and an RBI. Cam Palahach had two hits and an RBI. JoJo Williams had two hits, while Eli Tidwell, Lawson Williams and Brody Leathers each had an RBI.
Game two: Hartselle 6, Cullman 5
In a complete reversal of game one, the Tigers had to hang on for a 6-5 win over Cullman after jumping out to a 6-0 lead after two innings. The win gives Hartselle a second consecutive area championship.
Hartselle jumped out in the bottom of the first when Steele hit a three-run home run for a 3-0 lead. The Tigers added to the score in the bottom of the second with a solo home run by Cade Miles and then a two-run shot by Mizell.
Cullman scored a single run in the third and three in the fourth inning to cut the lead to 6-4. The Bearcats added one in the top of the seventh to cut the lead to 6-5 and had two runners on with only one out before the Tigers got out of the inning with no further damage.
Jack Smith pitched six innings to pick up the win. He allowed four runs on four hits while striking out five and walking three. Tidwell pitched the seventh in relief of Smith to earn the save. He allowed one run on one hit while striking out two.
Game three: Hartselle 6, Cullman 3
The Tigers battled from behind to pick up a 6-3 win over Cullman to complete the sweep.
After Cullman took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth, Hartselle scored four runs with two outs to take a 5-2 lead. The Tigers had four hits in the inning, including a triple by Tidwell and a double by Mizell to plate runs.
Hartselle added a run in the bottom of the 6th to make the score 6-2. Cullman added a run in the top of the seventh to make the final score 6-3.
Tidwell finished with two hits, three RBI and a run scored to lead the Tigers’ offense. Mizzell had two hits and an RBI, while Williamson and Jake England each had a hit and an RBI.
Nic Chumley picked up the win with two innings of relief, allowing a run on three hits while striking out two. Leathers earned the save in relief of Chumley.
Hartselle will host Pinson Valley in the first round of the 6A State Playoffs on Thursday with a doubleheader starting at 5 pm. If a third game is needed, it will be held on Friday.