Comeback cats strike again

Published 3:04 pm Friday, March 17, 2017

Close games have been common throughout the early part of Chilton County High School’s 2017 baseball season.

Seven of the Tigers 11 games played have been decided by two runs or less. Chilton County has a record of 5-2 in those tightly contested, including a 6-5-comeback victory over Prattville at home on Tuesday.

“My hats off to the guys for hanging in there, battling through adversity and getting the win on a cold night,” CCHS head coach Ryan Ellison said.

Chilton County performed some last inning magic after walks to Cody Minor, Eiland Cleckler and Keaton Sullivan loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh.

Dustin Cleckler stepped to the plate, having already reached base in each of his prior four at-bats, all walks.

Facing a new Prattville pitcher, Dustin Cleckler grounded a ball that was fielded by the Prattville second baseman, who hustled over to second, but was beaten to the bag by a sliding Sullivan.

As the play at second base was going on, Green and Eiland Cleckler came in to score for the game-tying and game-winning runs respectively.

“I saw coach saying that he was safe, and I just kept hustling around third,” Eiland Cleckler said. “When you’re a senior, you know that you have to take a role as a leader.”

The dramatic finish was identical to a play at second base that occurred in the top half of the seventh inning. In that instance, the runner was also called safe to the disbelief of the CCHS fan base.

As a result, Prattville scored and tied the game at 4-all. An error by Sullivan at home plate led to another run that gave Prattville a 5-4 lead, its first of the game.

The Tigers committed five errors in the game, with several coming at crucial moments.

“Errors have been our Achilles heel this year,” Ellison said. “Making the routine plays is something that we talk about all the time. We’ve definitely got to go to work on our fielding and situational plate appearances.”

The Tigers had chances to end the game, but instead ended up trailing heading into the bottom of the seventh.

Chilton County started the game quickly with three runs in the first two innings and was playing from ahead until the final inning.

“It’s a lot less stressful when you’re able to have the advantage over someone,”

Eiland Cleckler said.

Garrett Mahan started the game for CCHS and pitched into the fifth inning and allowed four hits, two runs, six walks and six strikeouts. Seth Harris came in and pitched the final three innings in relief.

Both teams endured frigid temperatures with a wind chill that hovered around freezing for the entire game.

“You can’t let it bother you,” Eiland Cleckler said. “If you think about it, you’ll just get even colder.”

It was the second straight walk-off victory for the Tigers, after defeating Jemison 7-6 in similar fashion on Saturday.