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Tigers' bats too little too late
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The missing ingredient was finally there for the Alcovy baseball team.

However, the Tigers staples were below their usual standards as Alcovy fell 13-8 to Northgate on Friday night.

The 13 runs by the Vikings tied the most allowed this season by Alcovy, which has had three shutouts.

The Tigers (7-7) have been strong defensively and on the pitchers mound in 2012, holding two teams to just one run and allowing more than nine runs only in the two games they gave up 13.

In its previous four games Alcovy has tallied just one run in each of its first three and two runs in a 5-2 loss to Ola.

The Tigers' bats exploded Friday, as Alcovy tallied 12 hits.

"I told the kids this, ‘If you find a way to hit the ball the way you did tonight every game, you'll be in the state playoffs,'" Alcovy coach Casey Bates said.

The hits, however, couldn't help Alcovy overcome a strong start by Northgate (6-6).

The Vikings scored six runs in the first inning off of hits, errors, walks and a home run.

"You spot somebody six points in the first, and you have your work cut out for you," Bates said.

Northgate managed four more runs in the fourth and three in the fifth but by then it was too big of a lead for Alcovy to overcome.

"You take away that first inning and we probably win that ball game," Bates said.

Dalton Regan started the game, and ran into misfortune in the first inning.

"It was just one of those baseball moments in the first inning," Bates said. "Everything happened for them in the first inning and nothing happened for us in the first inning."

Alcovy, which has struggled hitting the ball prior to Friday, shrugged off that struggle early.

Bowen Braswell, the Tigers' first batter of the game, connected on a home run to get the offense started.

Alcovy continued to get hits here and there, scoring another run in the third, before exploding offensively in the fourth.

After Northgate made it a 10-run game in the top of the fourth, Alcovy answered with six runs in the bottom.

"For some reason tonight we didn't pitch well and didn't play good defense but our hitters came around and we started hitting the ball," Bates said. "We scored eight runs, if we score eight runs every ball game we're going to be in the state playoffs."

One of the reasons Alcovy may have had an easier time hitting Friday could be due to Thursday.

As the Tigers' came out for practice Bates told them they wouldn't be working on anything new that day but instead just to let loose.

The team held a coaches-pitch scrimmage where the goal was just to hit the ball.

The proof of the relaxed practice came on the first pitch as Braswell hit his second home run in as many days.

The first was a grand slam that ended Thursday's intra-squad scrimmage.

"We came out yesterday and I told them just to have fun in practice," Bates said. "I said, ‘Let's see how far you can hit it. Every time you come up here just see how far you can hit it.'

"High school kids sometimes when they're not hitting get down on themselves and think too much."

Bates' unorthodox practice, which he does usually once a year, seemed to cure the Tigers of over thinking while at the plate.

There is just six subregion games left for the trend to continue as Alcovy is looking to remain in the top four.

It currently sits third, one game behind Ola, and one game ahead of Jones County.

The Tigers travel to Griffin on Wednesday.

"If we get 12 hits and eight runs from here on out we'll be in the state playoffs," Bates said. "We have to find a way to do that and give our pitchers some cushion."

Along with scoring more runs than the other team, added hits will also help ease his pitchers.

"Our pitchers having to go out there, it's stress on everything they pitch," Bates said. "If we give them eight runs, one hit isn't going to hurt them."