The Taylorsville Tartars struck first in their best of three series against St. Patrick with a 4-2 win at home on Friday night.
“The biggest keys this evening,” recalled Coach Dusty Hillman, “were our offense in the first inning, and Kenner [Todd] getting us out of jams when we needed him to”
The first of those jams arrived in the top of the first, when a late throw to first base with two outs allowed the Irish to score a run and build momentum to put two more runners in scoring position. However, Todd was able to retire the side and hold the damage to only one run.
The Tartars used the impressive speed at the front end of their batting order to strike back in the bottom of the first with three runs of their own. “Speed plays into what we do a lot,” said Coach Hillman. A single by Karson Evans was all it took for leadoff hitters Raven Arrington and Ty Keyes to score from first and second base. Moments later Karson James hit a perfectly placed pop-up just out of the first baseman’s reach, allowing Branson Sharpley to sprint home for a third run. “Speed plays a lot into what we do,” said Coach Hillman. “With Ty, Raven and Branson, that’s three guys who can really run. With those guys on, we can do a lot on the bases.”
After three strong defensive innings by both squads, the Tartars added another run to the board in the fourth when a single by Sharpley brought home Keyes for his second run of the contest, extending the lead to 4-1.
After allowing one run in the fifth on a field error, Taylorsville led 4-2 entering the top of the seventh. Back to back hits by the Irish to start the inning convinced Coach Hillman to call it a day for starter Kenner Todd and let Walker Gable come in for the close.
In six inning, Todd allowed only two runs on seven hits and struck out eight opposing hitters. Gable got the close with two groundouts and a strikeout to end the contest.
In order to get another win and advance, Coach Hillman said they need more consistency from the offense. “We had some big hits in the first, and we got three runs out of it, but we need to sustain that production throughout the game or it could catch up to us later. We can’t just sit on a few early runs, we need to keep scoring throughout the game.”
The Tartars will travel to Biloxi on Saturday to play Game 2 of the first round series on the road. A win for Taylorsville will earn them a spot in the second round, but a win by St. Patrick will force a Game 3 to be played on Monday to decide who advances.