There are some area schools that only play baseball in the spring while most athletes focus all of their attention and energy on football or other sports during the fall season.
But then there are schools like Duke that make baseball a priority and while the Tigers have a football team, there are some athletes that can never get enough of America’s Pastime.
The Tigers began practicing recently and played their first scrimmage against the Holliday Eagles as they prepare to begin the regular season as soon as school begins.
As with all teams after a hiatus, the Tigers were a bit rusty as they took the field against Holliday and fell into an 11-0 hole after just three innings of play.
But the Tigers began chipping away at Holliday’s lead thanks to walks to Taylor Smith and Hayden Brown that put two on base for Duke with no outs in the top of the fourth inning.
During Dawson Brooks’ at-bat, Brown was caught trying to stretch his lead at first but it was enough of a distraction to get Smith from second to third and a little bit closer to home.
Brooks delivered a ground ball single up the middle to score Brooks and give Duke its first run of the game.
Mason Rice was walked following the score and Harris Osborne laid down a sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher to score Brooks and move Rice to third.
Gage Milner was walked and a double steal allowed Rice to race home and score while Milner stole second. Chance Clark was walked following the score but Matt Milner struck out looking to end Duke’s scoring at three.
After holding the Eagles scoreless, Smith got another chance at the plate and was walked once again. Brown grounded out to the short stop and Brooks was walked to put two on base for the Tigers.
Rice singled on a hard ground ball to center field to score Smith and advance Brooks to third just before Brooks stole home to cut Holliday’s lead to six.
Osborne was hit by a pitch to add another runner on the base path for Duke and during Gage Milner’s at-bat, Rice shot from third and stole home plate to pull the Tigers within five.
But the inning came to an end when Gage Milner popped a ball into the air and was called out as it fell into the glove of the Eagles second baseman.
The Tigers once again held the Eagles scoreless and despite three consecutive walks, Duke could get nothing going in its half inning.
Holliday’s bats started working overtime in the bottom of the sixth as the Eagles put some distance between themselves and the Tigers by scoring six runs in the inning to extend their lead to 17-6.
The Tigers began a rally once more after Brooks was walked to begin the top of the seventh inning but a groundout by Rice gave Duke one out in the final frame.
Osborne grounded out to first but the hit was enough to bring Brooks home and pull the Tigers within 10.
Gage Milner reached base on an error after his fly ball hit was mishandled by Holliday’s second baseman and Bryson Akins double helped put two in scoring position for the Tigers.
Clark was walked but during his at-bat a passed ball allowed Gage Milner to cross home and cut the Eagles lead to nine.
Just one pitch later, Akins took advantage of a steal opportunity and rushed towards home plate to score Duke’s ninth run of the game, but Clark was caught stealing a few pitches later to end the game.
Brooks finished the game 1-for-2 with two runs scored and one RBI while Rice added two runs and one RBI on 1-for-3 hitting.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.