Tigers baseball coach Rhett Hellgren always asks his baseball team to do two things for him — play with concentration and intensity. The BI boys responded Friday afternoon at home, toppling Savannah, 15-0, winning by the run rule in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Leonard Felton started the Tigers’ scoring in the bottom of the first inning. After getting a base hit, he stole second and third, then scored on an RBI by Alton Malpass.
Malpass made his way to third and Tigers catcher Josh Driggers was on first base when Garrett McCorkle hit a short ball toward the Blue Jackets’ pitcher. McCorkle was tossed out at first, but that gave Malpass time to score the Tigers’ second run. Driggers’ courtesy runner, Xavier John, scored the third run on a Jacob Dill hit to center field to close the first inning with the Tigers up, 3-0.
In the bottom of the second inning, Felton scored another run off of a hit by Malpass to make it a 4-0 game.
The Tigers were making contact with the ball, but Hellgren gave the boys a brief pep talk after a series of batters were out on pop flies.
"Toward the middle of the game, they finally started doing what I asked them to do, which was hit the ball on the ground," he said. "I think they realized there was a reason I asked them to do that and gave it a try with much success."
In the bottom of the third inning, Tiger Matt Brown was walked and then stole second. Hill got on first with a hit. Brown scored on a sacrifice fly by Eric Wells. Hills had stolen second and was able to advance to third on Well’s hit. The freshman then scored a run off of a hit by Mitch Rogers. The Tigers were up, 6-0, at the close of the third.
The Blue Jackets managed to get a few hits to get on base but on three separate occasions were tossed out by the Tigers infielders when they tried to advance on steals.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Tigers had two outs but were able to load the bases off of a hit, a Blue Jacket error and a walk.
Tiger Chris Rafferty smacked the ball to bring in two runs. The Tigers brought in another run off of a wild pitch, allowing Dill to steal home. Rafferty scored a run off of a shot to center field by Wells.
John then hit a double, scoring another run, and Felton hit an RBI triple. Driggers closed the game with a shot over the wall for a game-ending homer and a 15-0 win.
Tiger Garrett McCorkle pitched three innings and Chris Rafferty pitched half an inning.
It was the Tigers’ second game of the season but already their first Region 3-AAAAA win. Hellgren said he is pleased to start 1-0 in the region but added they have a few tough games ahead, including non-region games that he thinks will present a bigger challenge.
"Tomorrow is the test," Hellgren said about Saturday’s game in Charlton County. "Charlton is 3-1 and I’m really looking forward to getting into some good competition. When we played our first game against Brunswick, I think we were a little tight. Now that we’ve played two games, I think we are ready to prove to people that we can play."
The results from Saturday’s game in Charlton will be in Wednesday’s Coastal Courier.