MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA Lane College rolled through Montgomery, Alabama last weekend to take on the Tuskegee Golden Tigers baseball team. After a slow start early in the season, Lane picked up steam and came into this four-game weekend series on a seven-game win streak.
“Our bats have come alive,” Patrick Barbour, Lane College first-year Head Baseball Coach said.
“Suddenly, we are hitting the ball. These kids think they can win,” Barbour said.
Indeed, Lane’s bats were hot. The Lane batters tallied 53 hits in the series. The Dragons banged out 16 hits on Saturday en route to a 10 to 3 victory. They came back in the second game of the doubleheader and pulled out a tight 6–3 win. The team collected 12 hits.
After Lane picked up 15 hits in the first of two on Sunday, winning 14–4, Tuskegee’s Head Coach, Reginald Hollins was facing a sweep. The Dragons were on a ten game winning streak.
“I did not want to get the sweep,” Hollins said after his squad held on to win a 9–8 game in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader. In this game, Lane batters had ten hits.
“I knew coming into this series Lane was hot, and their bats were on fire.,” Hollins said.
Tuskegee avoided the sweep on the strength of the offensive and defensive play of second baseman Dominic Johnson.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Tuskegee led 6–5. Johnson came to the plate with the bases loaded. He hit a double to right clearing the bases giving Tuskegee a 9–5 lead.
In the top of the sixth, Lane scored a run on a passed ball by Nytorious Cooler, who pitched two strong innings in relief of Hunter Hudson.
With two runners on base Elias Zachar hit a triple and was thrown out at the plate as Dominic Johnson relayed a throw from R. Martin in right field to home plate to capture Zachar in a controversial play. Zachar attempted to jump over Tuskegee ‘s catcher Jared Steele.
Steele held on and made the tag for the third out, preserving Tuskegee’s 9–8 lead. In addition to driving in what turned out to be the winning runs, Johnson’s throw to the plate kept the team’s one-run lead intact going into the top of the seventh and final inning.
Hudson shutout out Lane the first three innings. He gave up five runs in the fourth.
Cooler came in and despite giving up three runs in the sixth preserved Tuskegee’s one-run lead.
In the top of the seventh inning, Coach Hollins reached into his deep bullpen and sent Emperor Williams out to the mound. The freshman from Jonesboro, Georgia, took command of the game, striking out two and getting the last out on a foul out to the shortstop down the left field line.
Out of the four games, Tuskegee played two competitive games, although they lost 6–3 on the back end of Saturday’s doubleheader.
“I wish I can get my guys to play with the heart that the Lane kids have. You can never count Lane out. They keep coming.” Hollins said noting that his team always are very competitive in the conference tournament.
“I know we can play well all seasons as we play in the tournament. I am trying to find the right combination by the time we get to the tournament.”
Last year, Tuskegee almost played themselves out of the losers bracket to reach the championship game but lost a heart breaker to Kentucky State University on a controversial ball hit down the right-field line.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium, and Black College Nines. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org