By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
WEST POINT —
West Point fought, scratched and clawed during its Thursday afternoon matchup against Hartselle, but in the end, it was the Tigers that prevailed 3-1 to earn an area-series win over the Warriors.
West Point (8-6) has now lost its last five games after starting the season at an 8-1 clip.
“We played tough today,” coach Trai Meadows said. “I’m proud of how we battled.”
Hartselle took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a Brett Blackwell double to the left-center field gap. The Warriors had a chance to prevent the run from scoring but cut-off man Wesley Waters was unable to corral a throw from the outfield.
Meadows’ team was primed to answer in the bottom of the frame but a bit of tough luck kept his team scoreless.
Jordan McKenzie (double), Tate Duckett (Error), and Waters (hit by pitch) all reached to load the bases for Ryder Jones.
Jones proceeded to line a ball right into the outstreched glove of Tigers’ pitcher Tillman Landers, who quickly doubled off Waters at first base. Landers followed that play with a strikeout of Wesley Smith to squash West Point’s scoring chances.
“That was tough,” Meadows said. “You love those kind of situations. He smoked one right back to the pitcher and he made a great play. You couldn’t hit one any harder.”
Jones didn’t let his out deter him on the mound, however, as the righty displayed great command all game, shutting down a good Hartselle lineup through the first five innings before making a lone mistake in the sixth.
After a leadoff single from Blackwell and a sacrifice bunt, the Tigers’ Colton Ord connected on a pitch from Jones, sending it over the right-field fence to stake his team to a 3-1 lead.
Jones tossed a complete game, allowing two earned runs on five hits. He also struckout five.
“Ryder pitched a great game for us,” Meadows said. “He kept them off-balanced with a great curveball. They have a really good lineup and he didn’t give them much.”
Unfortunately for Meadows, his team could only muster one hit in the final two innings, dropping another two-run decision to Hartselle.
With the Warriors reeling and tough games against Hazel Green and Cullman looming, Meadows still has faith his team can get things turned around.
“We just have to keep playing the game the right way,” he said. “It’s tough when you start out 8-1 and have to play teams like 6A Decatur and Hartselle.”
McKenzie garnered two hits for West Point, while teammates Dalton Looney and Duckett each added one. Looney also scored the Warriors’ only run in the fourth inning, leading off the frame with a single before coming around to score on a throwing error by the Tigers’ second baseman.
‰ Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.