At times Taylorsville failed to get timely hits, left bases loaded, committed errors in the field and didn’t pitch up to its standard. But for all the things the Tartars did wrong, there were things it did right, like win Game 1 of its third round playoff series. Taylorsville defeated county and Class 2A rival Mize 6-2 Thursday night on the road to take a one-game lead in the series.
“I didn’t think we played the best we could play,” said Taylorsville head baseball coach Dusty Hillman. “We made some errors and made some mistakes, but we hit the ball in that one inning to go on top and added a run late to put some cushion behind us.
“I think emotions took over with some of our kids. We didn’t have the greatest at-bats in the world, but I knew it would be like this in this type of series [with teams] this close together.”
Click on the following link for video highlights and a postgame interview with Tartars head coach Dusty Hillman: https://youtu.be/L4fJNk4c90c
The playoff contest featured two starting pitchers under a 1.00 ERA (Earned Run Average). Walker Gable, who came into the game with an 0.14 ERA, tossed the complete seven-inning game for Taylorsville. Gable allowed one earned runs on five hits while collecting five strikeouts.
“Gable didn’t have his best stuff, to be honest,” said Hillman. “Yet he gutted it out for us. This time of the year, you’re proud of guys that go out there and gut it out for you. And that is what he did tonight.”
Mize sent ace Tyler Temple to the mound. The senior right-hander with a 0.58 ERA tossed 6.2 innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits and tossed just two strikeouts. Dusty Bush finished the seventh inning for the Bulldogs.
Taylorsville did its damage to Mize offensively with a five-run frame in the third. The top frame was highlighted by Branson Sharpley’s base-clearing double with the bases packed to give the Tartars a 3-1 lead. Sharpley led Taylorsville at the plate with three hits in three plate appearances and three RBI.
“Sharpley’s a senior, and that’s what seniors do this time of the year,” said Hillman. “That’s why he’s in that spot. He’s driven in runs from the leadoff spot all year, or he’s got on base from the leadoff spot all year. He’s a [soon to be] college baseball player, so that’s what we expect out of him.”
In the seventh inning, Taylorsville added to its lead with a single run on an RBI double down the left field line by Chandler Cline. Cline’s hit scored Raven Arrington from second, who reached base on a one-out walk by Temple.
Aiden Moffett and Kenner Todd also had hits in the win.
Mize scored first in the contest. After two base hits set Mize up with runners on the corners – first, a one-out double by Clayton Childres, followed by a two-out infield single off the bat of Dylan Reeves two batters later – a two-out error in the field by Taylorsville on ground ball to the second baseman resulted in the game’s first run. Brady Little was awarded the RBI on the play.
“We made some mistakes, but we played around it,” Hillman said. “I am proud of that.”
Taylorsville answered in the next frame to gain control of the game, scoring five runs on three hits, including Sharpley’s three-run double. Mize helped out by committing two errors in the third, resulting in runs number four and five for the Tartars.
Later in the game things got chippy between the two teams. A tag at the plate in the fifth caused both benches to somewhat clear. Moments later, after emotions calmed down, both sides were issued warnings. In the sixth, words supposedly were spoken between a Taylorsville batter and Mize’s pitcher as they crossed paths following a routine fly out in the infield and resulted in the batters ejection.
Game 2 is set for Friday night at Taylorsville. First pitch is slated for 7:30 p.m.
“The mindset tomorrow is the same as it was tonight,” said Hillman. “Like Game 1, we consider [Game 2] a must win. We’ll put Chandler Cline on the mound who’s been good for us in the playoffs already. We need to come out and swing the bats like we’re capable of.”