The Russellville Indians scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning en route to a 12-6 win July 6 over the Belle Tigers.
Going into the sixth inning, the Indians led 6-3. After the first two batters reached base safely for the Indians, Charlie Miller scored two runs on a double to make it an 8-3 game. Miller scored on a single by Landon Plochberger to make it 9-3 and the Indians scored once more to make it 10-3, still with no outs in the inning. Russellville scored one more time to make it 11-3 before the end of the inning.
Head coach Lucas Branson said the team had some really good at bats during the inning.
“(We) put the ball in play well and took advantage of some of their mistakes,” Branson said. “Base running … I felt was really aggressive, which is something that we feel like 95 percent of the time we are going to have really good speed on the bases. So if we have really good speed on, we need to be aggressive with that speed.”
Despite the late fireworks, the game was a back-and-forth affair early on. Russellville struck first from the beginning of the game, as the Indians took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to a double by Plochberger. Belle tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third inning after a sacrifice fly, but Russellville took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning after a home run by Trenton Morrow to make it a 2-1 game. Belle responded by taking a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning as the game went back and forth between the two teams.
Branson said his players know they have to focus on winning innings during a game like that.
“We feel like we can win every inning, obviously we have a chance to be successful,” Branson said. “You are not going to win them all but if you win a majority of them, you are probably going to win games. If you stay out of the big inning, which we did for the most part very well. We knew that the first two or three pitchers we saw were going to be pretty decent, so our kids just knew that they had to put good at bats together and keep battling.”
Russellville tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning and had the bases loaded with one out when they took a 4-3 lead after a walk scored a run. A single by Braden Hickey made it 5-3 before the end of the inning.
With the score at 11-3 after Russellville’s big sixth inning, Belle made it a little closer as they scored three runs in the seventh to make it 11-6. The game went a full nine innings instead of the usual seven, as both teams’ coaches agreed to play the extra innings.
Branson said he thought his team handled the extra work well.
“With them coming from Belle, we just felt it would be better to play one single nine inning game,” Branson said. “It is good for those kids to see what the higher levels go through on a nightly basis. It is a challenge keeping your focus for those extra couple of innings. It is a challenge for us to try to get as many people in the game as we can and also handling our pitching staff, but they handled it well. They are great kids.”
The Indians’ next game is at 5 p.m today at home against Eugene.