By Thomas Sellers Jr.
On a cool, crisp and clear Wednesday afternoon in USA Stadium, the Battle of Millington was going along smoothly with the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels clinging to a 1-0 advantage entering the fifth inning.
Then the combination of TRA hits and Millington miscues spelled doom for the Trojans in the Best of the West contest. Rebel starting pitcher Colton Hall got things rolling for his team with a two-run double leading to a 11-0 victory over the Millington Trojans.
“We were up 1-0, I knew I had to do a job with runners in scoring position,” Hall recalled. “I just put the ball into play. When I hit it, it seemed like a little spark came off the bench. We all just started getting hit after hit after hit.”
The fifth started with Jacob Johnson and Blaine Curtis reaching base for the Rebels courtesy of a single and walk. Then Hall stroked a hit to centerfield scoring both base runners to make the score 3-0 with one out.
After a Conner Alexander walk and a strikeout, Logan Stewart put the ball into play toward first base causing a Millington error. The miscue allowed Hall and Alexander to score.
The TRA lead grew to 6-0 when Jacob LaFosse singled in Stewart. Gil Erwin was next up to the plate with a single moving another base runner into scoring position.
Then a wild pitch rolled to the USA Stadium backstop allowing the sixth run of the inning to score making the tally 7-0 in the fifth inning.
Hall would toe the rubber one more inning against the Trojans. He gave up just a single to Carter Hawkins in the fifth inning before retiring Millington with a pickoff, strikeout and pop out.
“I felt like I was mixing it up a bit,” he said. “I threw some fastballs. Then I would throw a curve ball in there to keep them on their toes. It was a little off speed here and there that helped get the job done.”
The Rebels got the job done in the sixth inning with Johnson leading off with a double this time. Curtis followed with a two-bagger of his own to make the score 8-0.
Hall drove in this third run of the game with a base hit to allow Curtis to cross home plate.
After an Alexander single, Brandon Mitson made Millington’s deficit 10 runs with a sacrifice fly. Then a bases loaded walk made the score 11-0.
TRA is above .500 after the first two weeks of the season and playing in the Lewis Harris and Best of the West Tournaments. Skeptics doubted if Head Coach Brad Smith’s squad could have early success having to adjust to losing a team’s worth of talent.
“We graduated nine seniors from last year,” Hall noted. “People didn’t expect much out of us this year. Out of 10 teams in our Region, they started us off preseason No. 9.
“So we’re just trying to come out here and turn some heads” he concluded, “show that we are still a good ball club with a lot of speed and good athletes. We can get the job done.”