Sweep of Phillips gives Red Bay 20 wins

By Staff
Mike Self, Franklin County Time
The Red Bay Tigers reached the 20-win mark for the first time in head coach Donnie Hastings' tenure on Thursday, sweeping a pair of games from Phillips.
Red Bay (20-8) won the opener 3-2, getting the go-ahead RBI single from Dillon Massey in the bottom of the sixth inning. In the nightcap, the Tigers broke open a close game with seven runs in the sixth inning on their way to a 14-6 win.
The doubleheader sweep helped Red Bay avenge an 8-3 loss to Phillips earlier in the week.
"We didn't have any enthusiasm on Tuesday," Hastings said. "We came out flat as a pancake. I want to talk to some of the other coaches in the county and get their opinion, but I think it had something to do with the county tournament last week. That was a playoff atmosphere for us. It was pretty intense, and it seemed like we had a letdown afterwards.
"We were flat at practice on Monday, and Tuesday was the same way. We started out flat again Thursday, but we finally got some life about us toward the end of the first game."
Andy Thorn's RBI single gave Red Bay a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning, but Phillips answered with a run in the fourth to tie the game. The score was still tied 2-2 in the sixth when Stephen Prestage doubled with one out and then scored on a single to right by Massey.
Morgan Stanfield (5-0) got the win with three shutout innings of relief. Cody Armstrong started for Red Bay and allowed two runs on three hits in four innings.
Stanfield, Ely Cox, Nathan Hopkins and Nicholas Taylor also had one hit each for the Tigers.
Red Bay was leading game two 7-5 before erupting for seven runs in the sixth, a rally that started with two outs and the bases empty.
Massey had an RBI triple, and Taylor, Thorn, Armstrong and Kevin Hastings also had run-scoring hits in the inning.
Derrick Miller was the winning pitcher, allowing five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
The Tigers now turn their attention to Class 2A, Area 16 play, which begins for them with a game at Mars Hill on Monday.
"This is the first time since I've been here that we've had a chance to play this many games before area play starts," Hastings said. "We haven't had any games rained out, and that's helped. We've been able to develop some pitching and give some of our young guys a chance to play and get better. I just hope we come out ready to play on Monday.
"These six [area] games are the ones that count."
Hastings said that playing meaningful games in the county tournament last week should pay dividends for his team.
"I think the county tournament was good for our guys, because it helped them get used to pressure situations," he said. "We did some things in certain situations that we probably wouldn't have done in a regular game. I think that helped us prepare for area play."
Senior centerfielder and leadoff man Brandon Brown has not played since injuring his knee in the semifinals of the county tournament last Friday, but Hastings said Brown expects to play on Monday.
"He's been able to hit some, but he just can't run very well," Hastings said. "It's definitely been different with him not out there. He sets the table for us. Early in the season he wasn't hitting quite as well as we're used to seeing him hit, but in the couple of weeks before he got hurt he was starting to find his swing. Then at the county tournament he was just knocking the cover off the ball. We're looking forward to getting him back out there."
Red Bay will likely need a full complement of players to beat Mars Hill.
"I know Mars Hill is pretty good. They're always good," Hastings said. "They've played in a lot of good tournaments this year, and I've seen where they've scored a lot of runs in some of their games. I think we can beat them if play really well, but that's not taking anything away from them. It's going to be tough."

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