CROWDER — The Eufaula Ironheads entered Saturday’s game with a perfect 12-0 record, the No. 7 ranking in Class 3A and an offense averaging more than eight runs per game.
Then they ran into Colton Tubbs and the Hartshorne Miners.
Tubbs gave up just one run in a six-inning complete game, and Hartshorne’s patient hitters took advantage of seven Eufaula errors to run-rule the Ironheads and win the Crowder Invitational baseball tournament, 9-1 in six innings, at Douglas Smith Memorial Field.
All nine hitters in Hartshorne’s starting lineup gave their team quality at-bats, working their counts full and biding their time until they got pitches they could put in play. Eufaula starting pitcher Colin Walch had to throw 99 pitches just to get through the first five innings, and even those Hartshorne at-bats that ended in outs still saw the hitters foul off at least a couple pitches that could’ve led to strikeouts.
“We truly keep a ‘quality at-bat average,’” Hartshorne coach Justin James said. “We share that with them instead of batting average because it’s one of things that we feel are important to be successful. That’s what’s really special about this group, is one through nine (in the lineup) do that. ... It makes it difficult for opposing teams, who have to pitch to somebody nine places that way.”
Hartshorne’s patience really started to pay off in the bottom of the fourth, which began with Tubbs reaching first on an error. Blake Tubbs grounded into a fielder’s choice at second, but Blake went to third on a double by Tyler Lindley, then scored on a single up the middle by Braxton Curliss to make it 2-1 Hartshorne.
Curliss added an RBI single in the first that tied the game 1-1. He added an RBI sacrifice fly in the fifth, finishing the day 2-for-2 with three RBIs.