CALERA — The Calera Bulldogs held on to clip the Tushka Tigers 5-4 Thursday afternoon.
The game was scoreless until the top of the fourth, when Tushka four-hole Connor Brinkley sent a two-run shot over the right-field fence. Fielder Hunter Goodwyn made a valiant effort to at the wall, but it was gone. The home run was one of three hits in the inning, and the Tigers left one on base.
Calera responded promptly. Designated hitter Cooper Hamilton took a walk to start the bottom of the frame, and Brayden Langley reached on a short stop error. Tushka made a switch on the mound, Connor Sutton for Brinkley. Derrek Cheek then bunted into the throw that took out Hamilton going to third. But Jesse Collett followed with a single through to left that loaded the bases.
Leadoff Josh Loper then drew a walk for the easy RBI. Dakota Jackson sent a sacrifice fly to center that scored Cheek. Next up was Rylee Barton with a two-RBI single to left-center. He took an extra base before Chase Hamilton came on as a courtesy runner. Shawn Harper then stepped to the plate and got Hamilton home on a single. The inning then ended with a strikeout on the ninth batter of the frame. The Bulldogs held a 5-2 advantage.
The next two innings made for a virtual offensive drought.
Tushka’s eight-hole led off the top of the seventh. Three batters actually took a turn in that slot, with Shelby Milam eventually reaching first on Ball 4. With nine-hole Parker Mobbs at the plate, Calera coach Rickey Teafatiller called Josh Loper from short to relieve Harper on the mound. Mobbs fouled one up high near the backstop and slightly over the gate that catcher Barton was able to reach for Out 1.
Leadoff Tyler Frank drew a walk. Zack Walker struck out. With two down, Wyatt Daniel took a stroll to stuff the bases and bring up Brinkley. He routed a hard-hit single through the infield to score Milam and reload the bags.
Frank was able to score on Dillon Mansell’s contact that was mishandled in the infield. With the tying run at third and nowhere to put another batter, Loper struck out six-hole Sutton. Calera claimed the 5-4 victory in dramatic fashion.
In throwing six innings for Calera, Harper struck out seven batters, walked one, hit one and allowed five hits. Loper pitched an inning for two Ks, two walks and one hit allowed.
Collett had two single for the Bulldogs. Harper hit a single with a run batted in and walked twice. Barton also drew two BBs with a single and two RBIs. Loper and Jackson contributed an RBI each.
The Tigers might have been picking on Langley at third, but they should’ve figured out earlier that wasn’t the way to go. Langley fielded five balls for outs in his six innings in the position.