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Golden Tigers repeat as Area champions


Today’s baseball play-off games have been postponed because of weather. The Golden Tigers will host Sardis Saturday at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The decisive third game, if needed, will be played Monday.

Going into Thursday’s game against West Point, the Russellville High School baseball team members knew they needed a win to clinch a play-off spot and the area championship.

Those two goals were accomplished, as the Golden Tigers defeated the Warriors in game one of the day by a 5-3 score.

To say it was a big evening at the Russellville baseball stadium would be an understatement. Along with the excitement of play-off positioning being on the line, it was senior night for Hunter Briles, Devin Buckhalter, Nate Green, Tanner James and Caden Parker. Also factor in RCS Tiger Pride Night, and that makes for a large crowd ready to cheer on the home team.

The area championship was the fifth straight for the Russellville program led by head coach Chris Heaps. “I’m super proud of my guys,” Heaps said. “We talk about competitive greatness, and to me, competitive greatness means you give your best when your best is needed, and I thought that we did that tonight.”

Gordon White got the start on the mound for Russellville, and he pitched 5.2 innings, allowing three runs with one being earned. He gave up nine hits and struck out three Warriors and while issuing no walks.

Rowe Gallagher came on in relief, and he worked the game’s final 1.1 innings, allowing two hits and a walk. He struck out two and got the win.

RHS threatened to score in the bottom half of the second inning when the Golden Tigers had runners on second and third with two outs, but they came up empty. In the following frame, Russellville grabbed the lead when Jackson Lindsey led off with a walk, and Briles doubled to put runners on second and third. After a couple of strikeouts followed, Parker put the ball in play on a 3-2 count to make the score 2-0.

Russellville added to the lead in the fourth when Devin Buckhalter singled up the middle to plate a run. West Point battled back to tie the score in the sixth, scoring three runs, with Aubry Cleghorn’s solo homer starting things off.

RHS took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning when Lindsey doubled deep into the right field corner, scoring two runners.

RHS had six hits in the game, with Buckhalter leading the way with two. Lindsey, Briles, Green and Rogers also helped the cause with a hit each.

Green scored two runs, while Lindsey, Will Rogers and Cade Fretwell scored one run apiece.

With the win, the Golden Tigers improved their record in Class 5A, Area 14 to 4-2, and the Golden Tigers will host Sardis in round one of the playoffs. Games one and two are scheduled for April 19 at RHS, with game three coming Saturday at home if necessary.

The win over West Point was sandwiched between two losses for RHS to the Warriors.

March 9, West Point took a 1-0 win. Both starting pitchers went the distance. Parker pitched for Russellville, and he allowed seven hits and no walks while striking out three batters.

Buckhalter, Lindsey and John David Bishop had the Russellville hits, with Buckhalter and Lindsey picking up doubles.

In the second game of the evening at RHS April 11, West Point picked up a 5-4 win. Russellville (14-15) trailed 3-2 going into the bottom of the sixth inning, and then the Golden Tigers scored twice in the frame to take the lead. West Point answered with two runs in the seventh to get the victory.

RHS had eight hits, with Lindsey, Briles and White picking up two each. Buckhalter and Rogers also hit safely with Buckhalter’s hit being a double.

James got the start on the mound and went six innings. He allowed three runs and six hits while sticking out seven and walking none.

Casen Heaps came on in relief, and he gave up two runs, two hits and a walk.