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Golden Tiger baseball ramps up

The 2019 varsity baseball season is underway, and the Russellville Golden Tigers’ roster is filled with new names that will play key roles this year.

Almost all of the familiar faces that led RHS to four-straight trips to Montgomery and three Class 5A state championships have graduated, creating an opportunity for a new group of student-athlete to take the field.

Although the team is inexperienced, the Golden Tigers will continue to play a tough schedule with plans that it will pay off later in the season. “It’s a very tough schedule,” head coach Chris Heaps said. “I told them, don’t pay attention to the scoreboard and don’t pay attention to your win-loss record. Pay attention to where we are a month from now when we’re playing area play or whatever it is; we’re going to be prepared.”

Russell County 7, Russellville 6

For the third consecutive year, the Golden Tigers made the trip to Oxford’s Choccolocco Park to begin the season.

RHS jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against the 6A Russell County Warriors and added three more runs in the second but couldn’t hold the lead. Russellville led 6-3 after 4.5 innings, but the Warriors scored twice in both the fifth and sixth innings to grab the win. The Golden Tigers outhit Russell County 10-9 and played errorless defense.

Jackson Lindsey went 3-4 with the bat for Russellville. He also scored a run and had two of the five RHS stolen bases in the game. Devin Buckhalter went 2-4 with a double and picked up three RBIs. Cole Barnett also had two hits, a walk and three runs scored, was hit by a pitch and stole two bases.

Hunter Briles, John David Bishop and Rowe Gallagher all pitched in with a hit each. Briles and Caden Parker picked up one RBI each, while Cade Fretwell had a stolen base and a run scored.

Gallagher started the game on the mound and went three innings. He allowed three runs on five hits and struck out three. Parker came on in relief and worked the game’s final three innings, allowing four runs on four hits. He struck out three and walked two in the loss.

James Clemens 7, Russellville 2

In the second game of the day in Oxford for Russellville, the Golden Tigers fell in defeat to the 7A Jets from Madison.

RHS managed three hits in the contest, while James Clemens had 11. The Golden Tigers scored a run in both the first and second innings but trailed 4-2. The Jets picked up a run in the sixth and two in the top of the seventh to put the game away.

Gordon White was on the mound to start the game for RHS. He went six innings and gave up five runs on 10 hits. He struck out one and walked two before Tanner James came on to finish the game. James gave up two runs and threw 12 pitches. He allowed one hit and walked a batter.

Madison Academy 2, Russellville 0

After a scheduled game at Florence was rained out Feb. 21, the Golden Tigers traveled to Vestavia Hills Feb. 23 to play a couple of games, with the first being against Madison Academy.

The Mustangs scored the only runs of the game in the top of the first inning. MA picked up nine hits while RHS finished with two. Buckhalter and Briles had the singles for RHS, while Will Rogers, Peyton Ray, Lindsey and White all reached base via walks. Ray also had a sacrifice and a stolen base.

Gallagher pitched the game’s first six innings for RHS. He had nine strikeouts and allowed two runs on eight hits. Buckhalter pitched the last inning, allowing one hit, and he struck out a batter.

Vestavia Hills 2, Russellville 1

It was another low-scoring game in the second contest of the day for RHS. This time, Vestavia Hills took the win, outhitting RHS 6-3. The Golden Tigers were held scoreless until the last inning at Sammy Dunn Field.

Buckhalter kept his hitting-streak alive by going 2-3. He also had a walk, an RBI and a stolen base. Lindsey had the other Russellville hit, while Gallagher had a walk and a run scored. Parker was walked twice, Bishop once, and Briles was hit by a pitch.

White went the distance on the mound for RHS, while Colton Lewis got the win for Vestavia Hills.