Golden Tigers Champions again

Russellville claims fourth State baseball Championship in last five seasons
Russellville celebrates Class 5A State Championship at Riverwalk Stadium
Russellville celebrates Class 5A State Championship at Riverwalk Stadium(WAFF)
Published: May. 18, 2021 at 1:56 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - They found a way to get the job done. Game Two of the Class 5A State Championship not any different for Coach Chris Heaps and Russellville than any other pivotal moment of the 2021 season. Down 2-0 in the best of three series, the Golden Tigers score three unanswered runs, two in the bottom of the sixth to defeat Pike Road 3-2 at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Alabama.

I told the guys in the dugout we’re gonna win this game because we love each other

It’s the Golden tigers fourth State Championship in the last five seasons.

“We don’t care about the score,” Russellville Head Coach Chris Heaps said. “We care about the process we have, the attitude that we have, the work ethic that we have. The love for our brothers that we have, that’s what makes us uncommon, I really do. When you bring that process daily, winning takes care of itself. It’s not about winning games, we said that last night. this is such a small thing. This is a blue map, but you’re looking at the trophies right here. These are the trophies. These are the true trophies.”

Russellville High School’s Cole Barnett and Andrew Hatton slugged back-to-back triples in the bottom of the sixth inning to ignite a two-out rally that produced the tying and go-ahead runs.

“I told the guys in the dugout we’re gonna win this game because we love each other,” an emotional Cole Barnett said after the game. “No other reason than the fact that we love each other more than anyone in the entire world. Those guys are my brothers and I’d do anything for them. I just knew we were gonna win the game. i don’t know how, I just knew. I didn’t know how it was gonna happen, but I just knew we were gonna find a way, and thank God that we did.”

Barnett, who finished 3-for-3 and was named the 5A series MVP with five hits in the two games, started the rally with a two-out triple down to left center and Hatton then delivered a slicing triple that fell just out of the diving reach of right fielder Jax Carlton to drive in the tying run. Hatton, who finished the season with three straight successful pinch hits, scored on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze bunt for a hit by Grayson Thorpe to give the Golden Tigers its first and only lead of the game.    Reliever Reed Hill pitched the top of the seventh – yielding one hit – a towering 395-foot double Pike Road DH Iverson Hooks that hit the top of wall in left center field just a couple of feet shy of a game-tying home run. Reed then struck out two to seal the win. It was his second save of the series and seventh of the season.   

Starter Rowe Gallagher (9-2) got the win allowing three hits over six innings with five strikeouts.

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