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BASEBALL: Tigers putting it together

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Darlington baseball coach Matt Larry knows about the talent his team has this season. But in the last week that talent has translated into wins as the Tigers move into region play.

Darlington relied on Cal Fuller’s pitching and some early offense Thursday for a 3-0 win against Christian Heritage at home. It was the Tigers’ second win in as many days against the Lions after winning 12-2 in Dalton on Wednesday.

Larry’s squad has now won four of its last five games after starting the season 1-3, and he understands that they can’t rest on their laurels just yet.

“We have to keep hammering forward,” Larry said. “We are going to be facing plenty of good teams coming up. With some guys being hurt, we’ve moved some people around, out of position. But our guys have stepped up for the cause and I’m proud of them.”

The low-scoring game was no surprise to Larry, who has pushed the importance of jumping on pitchers early in games to his players. He said his team is going to face good pitching many more times this season, and he will take offense however possible.

Fuller threw all seven innings while striking out five and allowing only three hits in the Region 6A-A contest. The senior said he has made sure to get his fastball in early against batters to have better control.

“We just have to keep fighting,” Fuller said. “We can’t give up in any situation of the game. We just need to stay focused, just stay in it, keep grinding it out.”

Darlington outfielder Kane Popham went 2 for 3 at the plate, reaching base four times and scoring twice. Austin Cloud went 2 for 3 with a run scored, while Nolan Wilson notched two singles and an RBI.

Fuller retired 10 consecutive batters at one point as Christian Heritage batters often ended their at-bats with either a ground ball or pop out.

The Tigers (5-4, 3-1 6A-A) had few problems behind Fuller, with players like third baseman Nick Mauer and shortstop Cloud coming up with routine plays.

“Cal is a groundball pitcher, and you need that type of fielding,” Larry said.

While the offense did not produce the way it did on Wednesday, Darlington still got a litany of hits in the first inning. Three bloop singles and a double from Popham would produce two early runs and put Christian Heritage behind all game long.

The Tigers scored one more run in the third after Jake Womack knocked in a two-out RBI single. They were able to get runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but the Lions repeatedly squeezed out of the situation unscathed

Darlington plays again Tuesday when it hosts Trion at 4:30 p.m. It is another chance for the Tigers to continue what their building and put their talent to good use.