Coming off a hard-fought 5-3 win over Miles in Game 1 of their Region I-2A bi-district series against the Bulldogs, the Anson Tigers eliminated the drama early in Game 2 on Saturday, scoring four first-inning runs on their way to an 8-1 series-clinching win at Abilene Cooper.
Coach Scotty Nichols’ squad led 7-0 by the end of the third inning and 8-0 before Miles finally scored in the sixth to avoid the shutout.
The victory, which improved the Tigers to 22-1-1, earned AHS an area-round date with Christoval next week.
“We came out and had a better day than we did (Friday),” Nichols said. “We were a little more focused and a little more ready to go. We knew we had Nick (Miller) on the mound and that we’d have a good chance to play some good defense, and we got our offense going early.
“We kind of sputtered out there in the fourth. We had it rolling pretty good and kind of put it on cruise, but Coach (Brannon Petillo) does a good job over there with Miles. Miles is a good team and they’re going to compete with everything, and we were fortunate enough to get out on top.”
With the way starter Miller performed on the mound, Anson didn’t need too much offense to clinch the sweep Saturday. But that didn’t stop the Tigers from providing their pitcher with loads of early run support anyway.
AHS punished Miles starter Elijah Sanchez for four runs in the first, one in the second and two in the third before chasing him from the game after just 2.2 innings of work. Hayven Book relieved Sanchez and pitched well, surrendering just one run in 4.1 innings, but the damage was done by the time he entered the game.
“It was very important to get out to a good start,” Nichols said. “I was preaching to them that we needed a big number in the first inning to kind of get the momentum going our way, and the guys came out and did it. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Anson’s four first-inning runs came on three hits, a walk and a hit batsman. After opening the game with a Nick Miller single and a Blake Vinson walk, the Tigers took their first lead on a two-run double by Trevor Miller, before adding two more runs on a Riley Elrod sacrifice fly and the first of two Miles errors.
AHS would add another run to its lead on another Bulldogs error in the second, before going up 7-0 in the third on and RBI groundout by Elrod and Riley Pippin’s solo home run to left. Trevor Miller made it 8-0 two innings later, when he smashed a one-out triple to left-center and scored on Mason Hagler’s RBI groundout.
That staked Nick Miller to a sizeable lead, and the right-hander took care of the rest, taking a shutout into the sixth inning. The junior went 5.1 innings, allowing one run on four hits and five walks, finishing with seven strikeouts before giving way to Vinson, who retired all five batters he faced on just 19 pitches.
“It had been 10 days since we’d seen live action, so the bats started out a little slow (Friday), and Nick hadn’t thrown in 12 or 14 days, somewhere in there,” Nichols said. “It can take a little while to get it back, and he did a great job. He kept them off balanced and was able to get the ‘W.'”
Trevor Miller led Anson’s eight-hit attack, going 2 for 4 with a double, a triple, two runs and two RBIs. Pippin also had a multi-hit game, going 2 for 2 with a home run, two runs and one RBI.
Elrod also had a team high-tying two RBIs for the Tigers, while Mason Hagler had the game’s only other extra base hit on a fourth-inning double.
With the bi-district round in the rearview, Anson can now shift its attention to the area round and continuing what it hopes will be an extended playoff run.
“We knew this was going to be a tough series with Miles,” Nichols said. “Miles is always a good baseball tradition town. We’ve played them before in year’s past in the first round, and it’s been a battle.
“We want to have a big year, but we know we have to take it each round at a time. Every team can sneak up and get you because they’re shooting for you.”
REGION I-2A BI-DISTRICT
ANSON 8, MILES 1
Nick Miller, Blake Vinson (6) and Tyler Wilburn. Elijah Sanchez, Haven Book (3) and Keeler Pullig. W — Miller. L — Sanchez. 2B — Anson: Trevor Miller. 3B — Anson: Trevor Miller, Mason Hagler. HR — Anson: Riley Pippin.
Records — Anson 22-1-1; Miles 15-10.