By Thomas Sellers Jr.
GERMANTOWN – Just like any coach in the 2013 Lewis Harris Tournament, Brad Smith wanted to pick up some wins against quality opponents.
But for the veteran skipper the opening week gave him a chance to evaluate his team after graduating several players who are currently playing college baseball. Friday night at Germantown Baseball Field, Smith had his third chance to assess his Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels.
The Rebels took on the Lexington Tigers and improved to 2-1 on the season winning the contest 16-6 in six innings.
“I’ve learned my team comes ready to play and eager to play,” Smith said. “They are a determined group and they can make plays. Like I said, this is the most athletic team I’ve had in my 14 years.”
Against Lexington the Rebels’ athleticism came in handy but it was fundamental play along with instruction that gave TRA the 10-run victory. After the Rebels jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning, the Tigers answered by with 3 runs in the bottom of the first.
When the Rebels returned to the plate trailing 3-2 in the second inning, Smith’s lineup got a chance to bat around taking advantage of Tigers errors.
A Lexington fielding error tied the game at 3-3. Then it was junior Conner Alexander coming up with the big hit remembering the lessons Smith told him throughout the week.
“Coach Smith has been telling us to look away a lot, hit the ball to the opposite field,” he recalled. “I feel like I did that pretty well. And we took advantage of their mistakes tonight capitalizing on them with runs.”
Alexander smacked a double to right field driving the ball to the wall. His teammates Preston Smith and Blain Curtis crossed the plate to make the score 5-3.
Then a Tiger wild pitch made the tally 6-3. Moments later more Lexington errors led to TRA scores. Another wild pitch and an error made the score 8-3.
Then Jacob Johnson made the Tigers pay with a single to score a runner making the score 9-3 after one and half innings.
TRA added to their lead in the third inning when Colton Hall reached second base on an error. Alexander was next up to the plate and he hit another double to right field to score Hall.
Lexington’s third wild pitch of the game scored Alexander making the score 11-3.
With the Rebels ahead 12-6 entering the sixth inning, TRA put four runs on the scoreboard to activate the run rule.
The win was TRA’s second of the season after picking up a 7-0 victory over the Haywood County Tigers. In the season opener the Rebels suffered a 5-2 defeat to the White Station Spartans.
In all three games the Rebels were consistent in three aspects.
“We’re fast, we run the bases pretty well and we never give up,” Alexander noted.
The junior assessment of the team mirrored his coach’s view. And both agreed if the Rebels continue to use those things and do the basics, they can achieve similar success to the Class of 2012 reaching the State Tournament.
“If we just pound the zone with strikes,” Alexander concluded, “make plays behind us things will end up like last year.”