Golden Tigers hold off Florence, improve to 8-0

By Staff
Mike Self, Franklin County Times
TUSCUMBIA – Russellville's school record of 29 wins in a season, established just one year ago, won't last very long if the Golden Tigers keep this up.
Patrick Hines drove in two runs and made a standout defensive play in right field to back up a strong outing by Evan Fergerson on Wednesday as Russellville remained unbeaten with a 6-4 win over Florence at the Pepsi Invitational.
The Golden Tigers won their fourth straight game at the tournament and ran their overall record to 8-0.
"Our guys are playing good right now," said RHS coach David Ward, who guided the team to a 29-14 record last year in his first season as head coach. "We're making things happen on the bases, and we're hitting the ball well. I'm just proud of the kids for the way they're battling."
Wednesday's game was a perfect example of how the Golden Tigers are capable of beating an opponent in a lot of different ways with a lot of different people.
Offensively, the Golden Tigers excel at manufacturing runs with Ward's patented small ball approach. That was on full display in the first inning, when leadoff man Caleb Mitchell beat out an infield hit and then stole two bases before scoring on a groundout by Cory Trapp.
This year, however, Ward's team doesn't just scratch and claw for runs with sacrifice bunts, hit-and-runs and aggressive base running. They're also capable of bludgeoning opponents with the long ball, courtesy of senior third baseman Seth Fergerson.
Fergerson blasted a solo homer in the third inning on Wednesday, his third home run in two games and his fourth of the season. The Golden Tigers hit only six homers as a team last season.
Fergerson has thrived in the fifth spot in the lineup, driving in 15 runs through eight games and adding a new dimension to Russellville's offensive attack.
The Golden Tigers' lineup not only packs more punch in 2007, but it's also deeper. Hines, the No. 9 hitter, delivered a clutch two-out RBI hit in the second inning and later singled home a run and scored in the fourth. He also made a diving catch along the right field line to start an inning-ending double play in the top of the fourth.
"The way it's gone so far this year, if somebody has an off night then somebody else steps in and picks up the slack," Ward said. "Patrick had a big game today, and last night it was Jake [Ward]. It could be a different guy every night, and Seth has been the constant."
The Golden Tigers are averaging better than 10 runs per game in the Pepsi tournament thus far, but they've also been getting good pitching. Evan Fergerson continued that trend against Florence, allowing three earned runs on five hits while striking out five in five innings. He had allowed only one run before surrendering a two-run homer to Dane Glover that cut the lead to 6-3 in the top of the sixth.
"I told Evan before the game that I was just looking for three or four good innings," Ward said. "He gave me four really good innings, and then I think he got a little tired."
Preston Beasley came on in relief and pitched the final two innings to earn the save. He gave up a run in the top of the seventh but then froze Glover with a wicked curveball to end the game with the tying run on base.
"I was proud of Preston for coming in there at the end and closing things out," Ward said. "He's 3-0 with a save now, so he's been a big part of what we're doing."
Russellville's red-hot start is even more impressive in light of the fact that last year's leading hitter, junior Jacob Daniel, is yet to step on the field. Daniel, who batted. 459 a year ago, suffered a shoulder injury during football season and is still rehabbing.
Ward still hopes that Daniel, who was also one of the team's top pitchers last season, will be able to return later in the year.
In the meantime, the coach is focused on making sure his team doesn't lose focus.
"We have to realize that there are going to be bad days," Ward said. "The important thing is that we learn from those bad days and continue to work hard and get better."
In previous action:
Russellville 13 Brooks 6
Seth Fergerson homered twice and drove in five runs to lead the Golden Tigers past the Lions on Tuesday.
Cory Trapp (2-0) was the winning pitcher, striking out six and allowing only four hits.

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