By Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
BRUCE – Hatley coach John Harris admitted on Thursday his team’s problem in its series-opening loss was errors and trouble on the mound.
The Tigers (25-4-1) turned that around on Friday with a nine-run fourth inning in which five batters walked and two others were hit by a pitch to even up the best-of-three North 2A championship series with a 14-0 win.
“They made some mistakes that we were really able to take advantage of tonight,” Harris said. “We had some big hits here and there.”
Hatley appeared to get the scoring started in the first when Jake Self crossed the plate on Hunter Schrock’s sacrifice fly, but the home plate umpire reversed his call and said Self failed to tag up at third before coming home.
The Tigers came back in the second, sending all nine hitters to the plate. Sawyer Weaver led off the inning with a walk and was bunted over to second by Caleb Walters. Tyler Bowling walked, and Josh Carlisle’s RBI-infield single sent both runners home.
Ninth-place hitter Garrett Gray added an infield single of his own, scoring Carlisle and Chandler Wright. Hatley plated another run in the third on Carlisle’s second RBI single.
The floodgates opened in the fourth with nine Hatley runs. Self walked to open the inning, while starting pitcher Russ Johnson (11-1) followed him up with a single. Schrock walked, and Sawyer Weaver was hit by a pitch to score Self.
Walters, the second hit batter of the inning, sent home Johnson, and the next three runs scored on three consecutive walks by Tyler Bowling, Carlisle and Wright. Johnson’s second hit of the inning, a three-run double, cleared the bases, and he scored on Schrock’s RBI single.
Johnson struck out four and allowed just four Bruce hits.
“Russ did a great job today,” Harris said. “He wanted the ball, and he came out tonight with a purpose. He kept everything down and did a good job against a good-hitting ball team.”
The winner of the final game of the series today at Hatley will go on to face Taylorsville in the 2A state championship series.