Trojans cool off Russellville
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
MUSCLE SHOALS - Joel Sessions struck out 11 batters in a complete game on Tuesday as Muscle Shoals handed Russellville its first area loss, defeating the Golden Tigers 8-2 in the first game of a doubleheader at Gattman Park.
The Trojans (24-6, 2-1 Class 5A, Area 16) won 3-2 in the second game, which did not count in the area standings.
Russellville had won 18 of its last 20 games heading into Tuesday's action.
The Golden Tigers (27-8, 2-1) uncharacteristically made five errors in game one, including three in the bottom of the third inning as Muscle Shoals scored four runs to break a 2-2 tie.
Only three of the eight runs allowed by Russellville starter Preston Beasley were earned. Beasley finished with nine strikeouts in six innings, allowing nine hits and hitting four batters.
Sessions surrendered just two runs on six hits. The senior righthander hit one batter and did not issue a walk.
The Golden Tigers drew first blood in the top of the second inning, taking a 1-0 lead when Cory Trapp singled and later scored on a hit by Corey Flanagan.
The Trojans surged ahead with two runs in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Seth Knight and an RBI single by Rusty Todd.
Russellville tied the game in the top of the third thanks to some aggressive baserunning by leadoff man Matt Crawford. Crawford singled, stole second, and then moved to third on an errant pickoff attempt. When the centerfielder took too much time getting the ball back to the infield, Crawford alertly dashed for home and scored what would prove to be the final run of the game for the Golden Tigers.
Muscle Shoals took control with four unearned runs in the bottom of the third. Knight and Brent Bradford each had RBI singles during the rally.
After the Trojans stretched the lead to 7-2 on Justin Fleming's RBI double in the fourth, Russellville mounted its final rally in the top of the fifth.
Beasley doubled with one out and moved to third on a single by Patrick Hines, but Sessions got Crawford to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Muscle Shoals added another unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to finish the scoring.
Flanagan finished 2-for-3 to lead Russellville.
Bradford and Drew Clark each had two hits and two runs scored for the Trojans.
Russellville trailed in the second game 2-1 before manufacturing the tying run in the top of the seventh.
Trapp drew a leadoff walk and moved to second when Corey Flanagan reached on a bunt. Torey Baird's fly ball to right moved Trapp to third, and Trey Hooper's RBI groundout tied the game 2-2.
Muscle Shoals loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning on a single by David Bailey, a double by Derrick Green, and an intentional walk to Fleming. Trapp retired Bradford on a pop-up for the second out and then got two strikes on pinch-hitter Cody Posey.
After taking a pitch that narrowly missed the outside corner, Posey lined a single to left to drive in the winning run.
Knight earned the win in relief after a strong outing by Trojan starter Trey Etheridge, who allowed just one run on three hits in five innings.
Trapp took the loss but also pitched well, allowing three runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out three, walked one and hit three batters.
Russellville scored its first run of the game in the first inning on an RBI single by Trapp.
Fleming tied the game with an RBI single in the bottom half, and Bradford's run-scoring infield hit gave Muscle Shoals a 2-1 lead in the third.
Patrick Hines had a double for Russellville, and Baird added a single. Crawford had a stolen base and a run scored.
Fleming went 3-for-3 to lead the Trojans.
Russellville is scheduled to play a doubleheader today at Colbert Heights beginning at 4 p.m.