Tigers continue to surge

By Kevin Eckleberry

April 5, 2014

A week that began with a heart-breaking loss to Columbus ended in fine style for the Troup Tigers.

When the Tigers lost to the Blue Devils 1-0 on Monday, they were 1-3 in Region 4-AAAA, and they were two games behind the four teams tied for first place in the region.

With Friday’s 8-3 victory over the Shaw Raiders, though, the outlook is a lot different for the Tigers.

The Tigers finished the week with three victories in a row, and they closed the first half of the region schedule with a 4-3 record, leaving them in a tie with the LaGrange Grangers for fourth place.

The region’s top four teams will advance to the state playoffs.

“I hate that we are where we are, but it could be a lot worse,” Troup coach Craig Garner said.

And considering the Tigers were two games below .500 in the region after the Columbus game, Garner said “we’ll definitely take where we’re at.”

Winston Turner, who was the tough-luck loser in the Columbus game, went six innings to get the win, and C.J. Tatum pitched the seventh inning.

Troup jumped on top with three runs in the bottom of the first inning, and it held the lead the rest of the way.

Shaw got within a run with three runs in the fourth inning, but Troup scored four runs in the bottom of the inning to push the lead to 8-3.

The Tigers got production throughout the lineup.

Brannon Weathers, the number nine hitter, had three hits, and the two men at the top of the order, Turner and Bo Halcomb, each had two hits, and C.J. Tatum also had two hits and a couple of RBIs.

Jonathan Foster had a two-run home run in the first inning to help the Tigers get off to a fast start, and Tyler Kemp had an RBI hit.

“It helps when you get top-to-bottom production,” Garner said. “We’re getting some good production at the bottom. We’re proud of that. Brannon Weathers and Tanius Harris, those guys have stepped in the last two or three games and have been big.”

Weathers didn’t begin the season as a starter, but since taking over at second base, he has been one of the team’s top hitters while excelling on defense.

Earlier in the season, Weathers had a stretch where he had hits in six straight at-bats.

“Brannon has been really hot,” Garner said. “He wasn’t even starting at the beginning of the season. Now he gets the opportunity to start, and when he finally did he ends up going 6-for-6.”

The Tigers started quickly.

Turner singled, moved up a base on a Halcomb bunt and scored on Foster’s home run.

Kemp kept the inning going with a walk, and Tatum added a base hit.

The Tigers scoring another run in the second inning.

Weathers got things going with a one-out single, and Turner followed with a double, and Halcomb also had a base hit in the inning.

Casper Gevens’ two-run triple in the fourth inning highlighted a three-run rally for the Raiders, and the Tigers’ lead was down to 4-3.

Troup then capped the scoring with four runs in its half of the fourth inning.

Harris walked leading off the inning, and Weathers put down a perfectly-placed bunt for a single to put runners on first and second.

Turner’s flyball to right field moved Harris to third, and Halcomb brought him in with a groundout.

After a Foster walk, Kemp’s base hit pushed the lead to 6-3, and Tatum followed with a two-run double to cap the four-run outburst.

Harris and Weathers had back-to-back singles in the fifth inning, but the Tigers were unable to add to their lead.

The five-run lead was plenty for Turner, though, who threw six strong innings.

Tatum set the Raiders down in order in the seventh inning to end it.

Troup will begin the second half of its region schedule on Tuesday at Alexander.