Tigers tame Mustangs on diamond

File / The Tribune Baseball players returned to the field for practice last Monday with the season less than three weeks away.

Looking to turn their season around, the Tallassee Tigers used a three-run third to distance themselves from their Class 6A opponents en route to a 7-2 victory over Stanhope Elmore last Tuesday.

Leading 1-0 after two innings, the Tigers got hot in the third.

Jacob Manning, Bobby Baker and Jack Gantt came in to score courtesy of a pair of RBIs and a sacrifice fly. William Blocker and Kenneth Baker drove in two runs then Reece Graham scored the third on the sacrifice.

“We’ve struggled so far this year at the plate,” Tigers coach Adam Clayton said. “We did a much better job today and were able to get some quality at-bats, and we had some younger kids step up. Hopefully, we can use this game to get things going in the right direction.”

Struggling to produce wins during the 2019 campaign, the Mustangs rallied with two runs in the top of the fourth but were silenced in the fifth and sixth.

“There were some good things that we saw out there, but the biggest thing is that we didn’t execute,” Mustangs coach Wes Dunsieth said. “I’m disappointed in that. But, overall, they stayed focused and they battled until the end. That’s all I can ask for.”

Tallassee, leading 4-2, added another two runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Graham drew a walk, prompting a pitching change. Cody Freeman came on in relief of Owen Woodard. Freeman plunked Baker with a fastball then overthrew a Devan Lee grounder allowing Graham to score and Baker to move into scoring position.

The mishap prompted another pitching change as Josh Wilson came on in relief of Freeman.

Wilson’s first offering to James Taylor was driven into the outfield allowing the bases to empty. Wilson, however, buckled down and retired the side by striking out the next two Tigers he faced.

“We know we’ve got a handful of guys (pitchers) that we can count on,” Dunsieth said. “What we are looking for is a couple of more guys that we can count on to come in and get us out of some jams. That’s what we are looking for — that one guy that can come in with runners on base and get us that out.”

Trial by fire is the best way to find out what works.

“There’s not as much pressure when you’re up,” Dunseith said. “It’s different if the score is a little closer. But, at the same time, every pitch matters. It was good to see what Wilson did. He came in with runners on and was able to get us out. We like that.”

In the bottom of the sixth, Tallassee plated another run.

Following another Stanhope Elmore pitching change, its third in two innings, Gantt singled to lead off the inning. He stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.

With two outs and a fourth pitching change in the books, Baker singled to drive Gantt home and give Tallassee its seventh and final run of the afternoon.

“We had some quality at-bats and their guys had to throw a lot of pitches,” Clayton said. “But we are still taking too many fastball strikes and I think we need to be more aggressive up there. But Stanhope has a lot of quality arms and I’m proud that we were able to get this win.”

In the top of the seventh, the Mustangs used a defensive error to plate a run. Alex Johnson drew a walk to lead off the inning then took second. He scored on a throwing error from shortstop.

The Tigers shut things down though and recorded a strikeout to end the game.