Tigers defeat J.U. Blacksher in final at-bat, 12-11

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Sports Writer

It appeared the Greenville High School Tigers were going to suffer a defeat at the hands of the J.U. Blacksher Bears on Monday. But, the Tigers battled back from deficits twice in the course of the game and a chopper through the middle of the infield drove home the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh, 12-11.

Pitching and defense dominated the early innings of the contest as neither team could bring a run across the plate.

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In the third inning, J.U. Blacksher hit a three-run homer to take the first lead of the game, 3-0.

In the fourth, the Bears took advantage of several Greenville errors to increase their lead. The Bears scored four runs in the inning before the Tigers were able to retire the side.

But, the Tigers came roaring back in their half of the inning. Dominique Hicks led off the inning with a single. Vincent Savage and George Nick Autrey followed him with basehits to load the bases. The following two GHS batters were unable to drive home the runners as both struck out. Consecutive singles by Ledyard Williamson, Tony Norris, Elisha Freeman and Jesse McMeans put Greenville on the board with five runs and the bases remained loaded for Savage, who was hitting for the second time in the inning. With three men on base, two strikes and two outs, the senior that is affectionately called "Wee-Wee", hit a ball deep over the fence for a grand slam homerun to give the Tigers a 9-7 lead after four innings.

In the fifth, the Tigers found their two-run lead in jeopardy as consecutive batters for J.U. Blacksher reached base. Greenville Head Coach John Williamson pulled the string on his starter and moved Autrey from his starting position at shortstop to put out the fire with nobody out.

The first batter Autrey faced lined a basehit up the middle, scoring one run and cutting the GHS lead to 9-8.

With one out and runners on second and third, the Greenville third baseman picked up an easy grounder, steps on his bag and then made the longest possible throw across the infield to record the double play and save the one-point lead.

Two strikeouts and deep fly ball to centerfield was all the Tigers could muster in their half of the inning.

J.U. Blacksher would not go away. An error helped their leadoff batter reach base in the sixth. A well-placed sacrifice moved the runner into scoring position. The following batter hit a double over the left fielders' head. Luckily, the runner on second only made it to third, but Greenville was in a jam with runners on second and third, only one out and only one run separating them from their competition.

The next batter hit a groundball, but it was enough to bring the runner at third home and tie the game at nine. The next batter hit a single and drove home the runner from second to give the Bears their second lead of the game, 10-9.

Another single scored J.U. Blacksher's third run of the inning and by the time the Tigers retired the Bears, they had fallen to an 11-9 deficit.

In the bottom of the sixth, Savage hit another well-hit ball with two outs that bounced at the foot of the fence for a double. But, the next batter was unable to get the basehit and the Tigers remained on the short side of an 11-9 score.

Greenville was able to retire the side in the seventh.

In their final chance to win the game, Norris led off with a walk. He appeared to have been picked off by the Bears' pitcher, but he continued running hard and a bad throw by the first baseman put him in scoring position with no outs. William Clark followed with a single to give GHS runners at the corners. Jonathan Kidd hit a grounder that was misplayed by the first baseman, allowing Norris to come home and the Tigers still had runners on first and third and one out. The Tigers were down by one run, 11-10.

The next batter, Elisha Freeman, was intentionally walked, setting up a possible double play situation. However, with Frankie Casio at the plate the J.U. Blacksher pitcher threw a wild pitch and the tying runner, Clark, came home. The Bears went back to their previous strategy by intentionally walking Casio to set up a double play.

With the bases loaded, one out and the bases loaded, Greenville's smallest player came up with the biggest hit as a chopper through the middle of the infield was too much for the on-their-heel infield to handle and Kidd came across home plate to score the game-winning run for the Tigers.

The win improves the Tigers' record to 5-9.

GHS played their final game of the season against area opponent Andalusia on Tuesday afternoon. The Tigers are not eligible for post-season play as they will finish third in the area.