HARTSELLE — Bundled up in a heavy jacket, Colton Ord chatted with Chris Brown in Hartselle High’s dugout before heading home for the night.
It had been a while since Ord, a senior pitcher, got an opportunity to talk with his catcher about an on-the-mound performance. The Hartselle left-hander suffered a hamstring injury in the offseason and had not made an appearance since.
An injury that’s now forgotten.
Ord returned to the mound Friday night, giving Hartselle three strong innings in relief in a 5-1 loss to Russell County. The Class 5A No. 2 Warriors swept the doubleheader, beating the fourth-ranked Tigers 6-1 in the nightcap.
Ord was sharp in his season debut, striking out five while giving up one hit — one of the few bright spots for Hartselle in an early meeting between two of Class 5A’s top-ranked teams.
“Colton looked good out there,” Brown said. “He had good velocity and location on his pitches. I’ve caught a couple of bullpens for him, so I wasn’t surprised.”
Ord entered Game 1 in the fifth inning with Hartselle trailing by three runs. After giving up a single to the second batter he faced, Ord retired six batters in a row, striking out four straight during that span.
“It was great to be back out here pitching,” said Ord, who was The Daily’s 2012 Class 4A-6A baseball player of the year. “I felt good — felt like I had good stuff. Right now, my stamina is the only issue, and I’ll get that back as I pitch more.”
For Hartselle, not much else went right. The Tigers (7-4) stranded base runners throughout the doubleheader and struggled through uncharacteristic miscues.
In Game 1, Hartselle stranded five base runners, and committed four fielding errors. The Tigers also had two runners get picked off on second base.
And things got worse in the nightcap, with Hartselle stranding 10 runners while committing six errors.
“We played horrible,” Brown said. “Definitely wasn’t our best performance.”
Russell County (8-4) capitalized on almost every mistake.
Anfernee Grier showed why he is considered one of the nation’s top high school players, going 4-for-7 at the plate on the day with four RBIs and a towering two-run homer.
Jesse Nelson dominated on the mound in Game 1, holding Hartselle to three hits in the complete game. The Warriors never trailed in the doubleheader.
For Hartselle, Brown was one of the Tigers few offensive highlights. He finished 1-for-2 with an RBI in Game 1, and followed with two hits and an RBI in the nightcap.
Hartselle hosts Hazel Green and Pelham today, with Game 1 starting at 9 a.m.
Contact Justin Graves at 256-340-2460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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