RHS Golden Tigers see post-season play come to end
The 2019 baseball season came to end for the Russellville Golden Tigers with a series loss to the Southside-Gadsden Panthers in the second round of the AHSAA Class 5A playoffs.
Russellville hosted Southside, with the two teams splitting a doubleheader April 26. Saturday the Panthers came back and took the decisive game three and ended Russellville’s hopes of a fifth-straight trip to Montgomery for the state championship series.
Interestingly RHS’ opponent in the past three 5A finals, Faith Academy, also fell in their playoff series in round two this year. Faith Academy moved up to 6A this season and lost on their home field to Chelsea Saturday as well.
Southside took game one over Russellville by a 6-3 score. The Panthers jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning as RHS starting pitcher Caden Parker struggled with finding the strike zone early on.
Parker settled in and pitched a complete game, only allowing one more run in the game’s final inning. Parker allowed five earned runs on seven hits. He struck out two, walked five and hit one batter with a pitch.
Jacob Little got the win by going 6.2 innings, allowing three runs with one being earned. Lane Roberts faced one batter and picked up the save.
Hunter Briles hit a two-run home run in the bottom half of the third inning for Russellville. Canyon Pace added an RBI double for RHS to make the score 5-3 in the sixth. Gordon White had two hits for the Golden Tigers, while Cole Barnett and Will Rogers had a hit each.
In game two, Russellville battled back and took a 4-0 victory. Sophomore Gordon White pitched a complete game to get the win. He needed only 98 pitches to complete the task, and White allowed four hits and four walks and had a strike out.
All of the RHS runs came in the second inning. Rogers brought home a run with a perfectly executed squeeze bunt. Then Nate Green got in on the action, making the score 2-0 with another bunt.
Briles picked up an RBI with a bases-loaded walk, and Cole Barnett finished up the scoring with a sacrifice fly to center field. Casen Heaps had two hits for Russellville, while Barnett and Green had one apiece.
Saturday, Southside scored two runs in the top of the first inning and another in the second off of RHS starter Rowe Gallagher. Tanner James came on in relief and stranded a runner on third base to end the second inning.
James then went on to pitch five solid innings of relief, allowing a run in the sixth. He gave up eight hits, struck out three and gave up no free passes.
Tyler Roberts got the win by pitching six innings before Lane Roberts came on to get the save. The starting Roberts was hit in the head with a pitch while batting in the first inning but was able to continue.
Devin Buckhalter plated the lone Russellville run with an RBI triple in the fourth inning after John David Bishop had reached base with an infield single.
The Golden Tigers had multiple scoring chances throughout the contest, but clutch hits were hard to come by. Russellville batters with hits in the game included Buckhalter with two and Cole Barnett, Caden Parker, Rogers, Bishop and Pace with one hit each.
Jackson Lindsey walked once and was hit by a pitch. The first baseman was robbed of a hit on a diving catch by the Southside second baseman in the seventh that turned into a double play.
Russellville ended the season with an 18-18 record.
“I guess what hurts the most is knowing that we felt like we should have won both games last night,” said Russellville head coach Chris Heaps. “If we don’t have that one bad inning, we feel like we win game one. Game two, they never really threatened us once we scored those four runs.”