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April 9, 2014

Walks lead to runs in Tiftarea blowout

CHULA — For a team to score 10 runs in a single game, it might be assumed that they ran the bases well. The Tiftarea Academy Panthers did some of that Tuesday evening in a 10-4 win over their region rival, the Deerfield-Windsor Knights, but a good bit of their offense came because they walked the bases well. The team drew 11 of them, including a string of six straight.

The Panthers were clinging to a slim 4-3 lead in the 4th when the bottom fell out for the Knights. It started quietly enough. A one-out single by Ethan Bryant turned into a man in scoring position after a sacrifice. But then came a wild pitch that moved him to third and Deerfield lost control of the strike zone.

Rob Flick walked, then Cade Marlowe to put a man on every base. There was no place to put Greer Howard, but he walked to drive in a run. The streak continued with Thomas Spurlin. Devin Paulk also drew a free pass, but his did not drive in a run; that had been taken care on a wild pitch during his at bat. The sixth straight walk was to Noah McMinn, which brought in run No. 4 of the inning.

Now staked to an 8-3 lead, the Panthers could relax a bit. That was no issue with Bo Vickers on the mound. He had come in to replace Taylor Folsom in the 3rd when he was in a two-on situation with none out and three runs, all unearned.  Vickers coaxed a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout before walking them loaded. A flyout ended the threat.

Vickers cruised after that. He struck out eight during the game and gave up only one run, when Tiftarea was up 10-3.

After the 4-run inning, the team struck for another two in the 5th. Zach Beier was hit by a pitch with one down. He went to third on Flick's double. Both scored on a single by Marlowe.

The Panthers started the contest with a pair of runs in the 1st inning. Flick led off with a single, Marlowe reached on the first of three walks he earned and Howard dropped a perfect bunt to load the bases with none out. After a shallow fly by Spurlin, Paulk grounded to short to bring in Flick, but when the Knights attempted to turn two, the throw went into the outfield, allowing Marlowe to cross.

Tiftarea's other two runs came without a hit in the 5th. Consecutive walks to Marlowe and Howard first saw both move up a base on a wild pitch, then another on a throwing error by the catcher. One more wild pitch brought in Howard.

The 10 runs came on seven hits. Flick went 2-2 and scored three of them. Marlowe also scored three, on one hit on one official trip to the plate. Howard scored two runs on one hit. Paulk, McMinn and Bryant had the other three. Bryant and Beier each scored one run.

Tiftarea will be at Westwood tonight. They are slated to host Glenwood Academy of Phenix City, Ala., Monday at 6:30 p.m.

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