Coach Heath Autrey

Daily Sun File photo/Ron Farmer

Tiger coach Heath Autrey, seen here from a game in 2019, won his 200th game with the Tigers on Thursday and then his Tigers knocked off No. 1 Cleburne Tuesday in Cleburne with a familiar mindset and game-plan of pitching, defense and grit and grinding and finding a way to win as the Wizard just keeps on winning.

On the opening day of the Tigers' season Thursday coach Heath Autrey said, "We're known for playing good defense and throwing strikes.'' 

Autrey sounded like a prophet (or just one heck of a coach) on Friday.

His young Tigers faced two powerhouse teams in the Duncanville Tournament, and Autrey let his pitching and defense do all the talking as the Tigers shut out Grand Prairie 4-0 and knocked off Duncanville 2-1.

Defense?

Sure, the Tigers looked good in the field in both games and committed one error all day as the two Tiger pitchers faced a total of only 43 batters in both games.

The Tigers looked even better on the mound. Talk about throwing strikes? Solomon James and Zane Petty combined to strike out 19 batters without allowing a walk in back-to-back complete game performances.

James tossed a seven-inning complete game shutout and stopped Grand Prairie on just three hits while striking out five. He threw 80 pitches, and 56 were strikes. James faced just 23 batters with the help of a double play and an errorless game in the field.

Petty went the six-inning distance against host Duncanville, and carved up the Panthers with 14Ks in his first start of the season. He gave up just two singles, and pounded the strike zone, throwing 58 strikes in 78 pitches.

Hunter Autrey went 2-for-3 with a double and drove in a run, and Bradley Gruver went 2-for-3, scored a run and drove in a run. Jace Richardson had a single, scored a run and drove in a run.

The Tigers beat Duncanville, one of the most respected programs in the state, with a two-run first inning that held up as Petty kept mowing down Panthers.

Kolby Kinkade had an RBI single and also scored in the first inning, and Miguel Leuvano and James had a big days at the plate, as the each went 2-for-3.

Kinkade pitched a complete game shutout Thursday in a 4-0 victory over North Forney, and Brydan Hernandez and Reno Morehouse combined to shut down Irving MacArthur 7-2 without allowing an earned run as the Tigers opened the season at 2-0. 

Autrey's strike-throwing Tigers are now 4-0 and five pitchers have combined to strike out 31 batters while walking just three and allowing only 11 hits in four games. Kinkade, James, Petty, Hernandez and Morehouse have combined to throw 26 innings without allowing an earned run.

Yup, there's a reason Autrey's Tigers are known for throwing strikes and playing good defense ...

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