By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The first Flag City Classic hosted by the Millington Trojans and Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels came to an abrupt conclusion for co-host Rosemark.
On a cool, windy Thursday night, the Harding Lions used their experience and timely hitting to beat TRA 17-5 on Rebel Field. At one point the score was 7-5 in favor of the Lions. Then Harding posted 6 runs in the fourth inning and 4 more in the fifth to earn the victory.
Along with the Lions’ experience and big hits in the fourth inning, Harding took advantage of Rebel errors and miscues in the field to win by 12 runs.
“Right now, we’re not a very good defensive team,” TRA Head Coach Brad Smith said. “I’ve tried numerous different combinations. Every combination that I’ve tried has come back to bite me. I’m going to just try to continue to find that right combination of players at different positions.”
TRA’s defensive combination was shaky from the beginning allowing the Lions to score 2 runs in the first inning on just one hit.
The Rebels cut the deficit to 2-1 after Alex Langford drove in a run courtesy of a two-base error. Harding bounced back in the second inning with 3 runs.
The Lions maintained their 5-1 lead heading into the third inning. Harding scored twice to make the tally 7-1 heading into the Rebel’s half of the third.
TRA had a four-run rally with runs driven in by Brandon Winfield, Corey Mitson and Langford. The score was 7-5.
Then the Lions pulled away with a fourth inning featuring four straight hits. In that rally, Harding had three doubles to make the score 12-5. When the smoke cleared, the Lions were ahead 13-5.
Harding added four more runs in the fifth inning to close out the game.
“When you’re inexperienced like this, it’s like the game is so fast for you,” Smith noted. “The only way to slow the game down is with repetition in the game and getting that experience everybody talks about. Right now you can tell when the ball is hit to some of my players, the game sped up when it’s really not. We’ve got to continue to get better.”
Smith said the game has slowed down for the Harding players and that made the difference Thursday night. But the veteran TRA Skipper said he has enough veteran players that they need to step up their level of play.
“I have four returning players in my lineup from a year ago,” Smith said. “I need those kids to do what they do. What they did a year ago, I need those kids to do that. And they’re not up until this point. To where some of these younger and inexperience kids are felling, so are my older kids. That’s a bad combination.”
Smith said once his experienced players increase their level of play, the 3-4 record his team left the field with last Thursday will go back over .500.
“I need my younger kids to fill some gaps and be good, solid high school baseball players,” he concluded. “I need them to work hard toward getting better.”