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Tigers' offense keeps playoff hopes alive
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The Alcovy Tigers varsity baseball team batted its way to an 11-1 region victory Monday night over the Lovejoy Wildcats, plating six runs over the first two innings while tallying nine hits.

The Tigers’ pitching staff allowed the Wildcats just a single run in the opening frame, shutting out Lovejoy’s offense over the final five innings.

While Lovejoys’ offense sputtered, the Tigers’ excelled, plating three runs in the first, second and fifth innings before sealing the win with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Hunter Phillips picked up the win for the Tigers on the mound, allowing three hits while striking out eight batters in five shutout innings.

“We came out fast, focused and jumped out to a 6-1 lead,” Alcovy coach Ryan Denison said. “Senior Nanpon Ross led the way with three hits and three RBI’s.  We played solidly defensively and really played up to our potential.  (It was a) fantastic game all around.  The victory also keeps our playoff hopes alive.  We have our destiny in our own hands now. Very proud of (our) effort and focus.”

The top of the first started quietly enough for the Tigers, as Alcovy starter Dalton Reagin forced a pair of grounders from Lovejoys’ batters. With two outs, Reagin walked the Wildcats’ Danyale Brimer. In the Wildcats’ next at-bat, Lovejoy’s Manny Martinez slapped a double into the outfield, scoring Brimer and giving Lovejoy a 1-0 lead.

Despite the setback, Alcovy responded in the bottom of the frame, erasing the Wildcats advantage with one swing of the bat.

Austin Richardson led off the inning with a walk and after a strikeout and a popout, it looked like the Tigers would strand Richardson on the base path. Ross joined Richardson with a walk, bringing the Tigers’ Nathan Purcell to the plate. Purcell connected with a pitch from the Wildcats’ D’Quon Matthews, blasting a home run into right field.

Purcell’s long ball gave Alcovy a 3-1 advantage, but the Tigers’ weren’t done scoring.

In the second inning, Alcovy extended its two-run advantage to 6-1, using a pair of Wilcats’ miscues to keep its offense moving.

Leading off the inning, Alcovy’s Ricardo Menchaca was hit by a pitch and a Brock Carter drew a walk, putting a pair of runners on with no outs. Zach Hill reached base on a bunt single, loading the bases for the Tigers.

After a Richardson fly out, Jesse Gilbert sent a line drive single into center field, scoring Menchaca from third.

Reagin drew a walk, sending Carter home, and Ross singled to center field during the Tigers’ next at-bat, plating Hill and pushing Alcovy’s lead to five.

After a pair of scoreless inning, the Tigers’ offense broke through again in the fifth inning. With one out Carter reached base on a double to center and Richardson joined him on the bases with a walk. A Gilbert walk loaded the bases and Carter took advantage of a Lovejoy passed ball, scoring on the miscue while pushing Alcovy’s lead to 7-1.

Reagin was hit by a pitch, loading the bases once again for the Tigers, and Ross tallied his third hit of the game, singling to right field. Ross’ hit allowed Richardson and Gilbert to touch home, giving Alcovy a 9-1 advantage.

Alcovy added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, scoring on a Richardson groundout and another Lovejoy passed ball.

Ross finished the day 3-for-3 at the plate while Carter and Richardson paced the Tigers with two runs scored each.

Matthews picked up the loss for the Wildcats, giving up six runs in 1-1/3 innings pitched.