Tigers tackle tourney challenge

TYE CHANDLER sports@theglenrosereporter.com
Camron Rush has the best day of his young career in Ponder. The sophomore connects on two hits and two RBIs against Valley View, followed by a team-high two hits versus Ponder.

Tiger baseball coach James Evans expected quality competition at the Ponder Tournament, and his crew met the challenge on day one.

Glen Rose ran roughshod over 2A Valley View and then earned a gritty eight-inning tie against host Ponder March 12.

The Valley View contest was a five-inning run rule in favor of the Tigers, 12-0. Glen Rose finished with more hits (9-1) and fewer errors (0-1). Up 3-0 after two, the Tigers plated nine in the third.

"We played good in that one," Evans said.

Colten Lane (5 IP, 0 R, 1H, 1 W, 11 K) owned the Valley View lineup.

"That was an excellent job by Colten," Evans said.

Top hitters versus Valley View were Trey Yocham (2 singles, 3 RBIs), Camron Rush (2 singles, 2 RBIs) and Dylan Hammond (2 singles). They were also the only Tigers with hits in the Ponder game.

"Trey came up with a big two-out hit in the third inning that helped us open the game up," Evans said. "He carried it into the Ponder game. Camron had a good day at the plate for us. He's been coachable and is making adjustments at the plate.

"He's seeing the ball good right now. Hammond is swinging the bat good. In hit-and-run situations, he is executing out there."

Other contributors were Jayton Dillard (single, RBI), Layne McAnear (single, RBI), Preston Shuffield (single), Drayton Williams (RBI) and Chance Nabours (RBI). Nabours drew two walks in the contest.

"We need to be selective hitters, especially in that first game when the pitcher was all over the place," Evans said.

Evans didn't have a lot to say about the defense versus Valley View, and for good reason.

"Valley View put the ball in play five times," he said. "Colten kept them off balance big-time."

The Tigers then got into a prime pitchers' duel against Ponder, as the contest ended 0-0 after eight innings. Glen Rose finished with more hits (4-2) and neither team made an error.

"That's probably one of the cleanest baseball games I've been in on both sides," Evans said. "We hit the ball hard all day - it was just right to them. We only struck out two times in eight innings.

"I think we were the better team in that one, but we had a couple of baserunning mistakes that cost us. Defensively and with our pitching, that's one of our best games."

Dillard (7 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 W, 10 K) put up a Lane-level stat line against a tougher team. Shuffield (1 IP, 1 K) was up to the task in relief.

"Dillard was outstanding and got stronger as the game went on," Evans said. "He was in complete control of that game, and Ponder never made it past second base. Dillard is performing like a top-two pitcher with Lane, and those are the two most unselfish players I've ever coached.

"Preston came in that last inning and was all business. He got the job done and closed the game for us."

The Tigers defense had quite a few more opportunities against Ponder.

"Lane had four assists and a put-out versus Ponder for a good game at third base," Evans said. "Drayton did a great job behind the plate (Thursday)."

Hitters against Ponder were Rush (2 singles), Hammond (single) and Yocham (single).

"For the most part, we played lights-out," Evans said. "I was proud of our kids. We made no errors the whole day and got after it."

The Tigers returned to the tourney March 14 to face Aubrey and came away with a 5-1 loss. Each team had six hits and no errors. Both teams struck out eight times, but Aubrey batters drew seven walks and a hit by pitch compared to one walk for Glen Rose.

"The walks were a key to the game," Evans said. "On four of their five runs, those run scorers got on with either a walk or a hit batter. That's always hard, because you can't defend a walk. We need to throw strikes and count on our defense to work."

Pitchers in the contest were Devin Crawford (2 2/3 IP, 2 R - 2 ER, 2 H, 4 W, 1 HBP, 5 K), Cody Halcom (2 1/3 IP, 1 R - 1 ER, 3 H, 2 W, 3 K) and Shuffield (1 IP, 2 R - 1 ER, 1 H, 1 W).

"We'll probably lean on Lane and Dillard to pitch as we head into district, but Preston will stay in the mix, and he's done a good job of coming in and closing," Evans said. "I wish (Devin) had a few more games under his belt at this point, but you can't do much about the weather."

Aubrey scored two runs in the third, one in the fifth and two in the sixth. Glen Rose scored one in the fourth.

Hitters for the Tigers were McAnear (single, RBI), Williams (triple), Hammond (double), Dillard (single), Shuffield (single) and Yocham (single). McAnear followed up Williams' leadoff triple in the fourth with an RBI single.

"Drayton did a good job at the plate and behind the plate," Evans said. "We've been missing that clutch hit at the right time with runners in scoring position, but McAnear did have a good hit in that situation. I like to see us produce those extra-base hits (like Hammond)."