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Russellville takes down Corner to advance in baseball playoffs

The Russellville Golden Tigers traveled to Corner for the second round of the AHSAA Class 5A baseball playoffs and took two of three games over the Yellow Jackets to advance to the quarterfinals.

The series began with a double header April 30, and RHS won game one by a 10-2 score. Later that evening, Corner came back and took game two 8-3.

The series wrapped up Saturday, and this time, the Golden Tigers took the 8-3 victory.

Russellville used a dominating pitching performance by Emitt Green, along with a mixture of small ball offense and timely slugging, to take game one.

Green kept his outstanding season going with a complete game outing, in which he outdueled Corner’s ace Colin Daniel, a Samford University commit.

Green threw 96 pitches over seven innings to get the victory. He gave up four hits and a walk and struck out seven batters.

Daniel went just over four innings, allowing six runs, with five being earned. He struck out five and walked five.

Cole Barnett hit a home run for Russellville and finished the game with two hits, two runs scored and two RBIs. Eli Gipson and Canyon Pace added two hits each, with Gipson also scoring a run and driving in one.

Jackson Lindsey, Reed Hill, Grayson Thorpe, Casen Heaps and JD Bishop had the other RHS hits, with Nick Smith, Hill and Heaps picking up additional RBIs.

The Golden Tigers were also busy on the bases, successfully stealing seven times.

Facing elimination with another loss, Corner battled back in game two. The Yellow Jackets plated two runs in the second inning and added five in the fourth before picking up an insurance run in the seventh frame.

Russellville tried for a seventh inning comeback but left the bases loaded to end the game.

A second-inning Casen Heaps home run was followed by two RHS runs in the fourth, including one that was brought home on a hit by Banks Langston. Heaps had two hits in the contest, as did Lindsey. Also hitting safely were Ethan Oliver and Barnett.

Rowe Gallagher and Samuel Pace did the pitching for RHS. Gallagher got the start and allowed six runs, with five being earned, over 3.2 innings of work. Pace gave up two runs with one being earned.

Smith’s third-inning grand slam broke a scoreless tie in game three to put the Golden Tigers on the path to victory behind a winning performance by starting pitcher Gordon White.

“Gordon was either a one- or two-game guy his sophomore year in the playoffs because of his command. Emitt kind of took the lead role this year as the No. 1 guy, and Rowe kind of established himself as the two. He didn’t have a great night last night, nor did Samuel, but they pitched OK,” noted Russellville head coach Chris Heaps. “Gordon, coming back today – you could be over here, and you could be sulled up, you could be bitter, you could feel unimportant – but you keep coming every day, and you prepare yourself for big moments, because you never know when they are coming, and that’s the thing that I really like about this team.”

White pitched 5.1 innings, allowing three hits and walking none to get the win. The senior right-hander allowed three runs, with one being earned, and he struck out two Yellow Jackets.

Reed Hill finished the series on the mound by pitching 1.2 innings. He allowed no hits or walks and struck out two batters.

The Russellville defense also helped out with a number of highlight-worthy plays in the field.

Barnett had two hits and two RBIs for RHS. He and Lindsey had doubles, and other Russellville hits were by Hill, Heaps and Langston, with Hill and Heaps contributing RBIs.

Russellville (36-6) will host Alexandria (24-16) in the quarterfinal round, with the three-game series scheduled to begin with two contests May 6, with an if-necessary game the following day.