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Lizi Arbogast / Tallapoosa Publishers Dadeville's Tripp McKinley threw a complete-game victory to begin area play Tuesday. He struck out 18 Randolph County batters en route to the win.

It’s clear pitching is going to be a strength for Dadeville’s baseball team.

Walker Spraggins and Tripp McKinley combined for a gem against Elmore County and freshman Wes Robinson overcome a high-pressure situation in a four-hit victory over Benjamin Russell.

But nothing got better than what McKinley did Tuesday night as the Tigers kicked off Class 3A Area 6 with a 5-2 victory over Randolph County.

McKinley allowed only one earned run and racked up a staggering 18 strikeouts in the victory.

“We scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning and that really put us over the edge offensively,” Dadeville coach Curtis Martin said. “After we went up 5-2, Tripp continued to just shut the door. He pitched a great game and he went the distance.”

After not wanting to throw McKinley for too long too early in the season, Martin quickly made an adjustment after seeing how strong McKinley looked Tuesday night. Because McKinley was coming into the baseball season early after the success of the Tiger baseball team, Martin thought he wouldn’t throw McKinley more than about five innings for the first several weeks of the season.

But after the Tigers (5-4) took a lead in the sixth inning, McKinley asked to go back in. He needed just nine pitches and struck out all three Randolph County batters he faced in the bottom of the frame.

“After that, he looked at me and said he wanted to finish it out,” Martin said. “His pitch count was at like 94 at the time and I said, ‘Go get it.’ Basically he told me it was his game to finish.”

McKinley’s curveball, slider and fastball were all in command Tuesday, according to Martin, and he needed only 107 pitches through seven innings to complete the game.

He was helped along by an offense that did just enough to ensure the victory. Spraggins, Cameron Tidwell and Lane Smith all had RBIs in the four-run sixth inning. Cooper Childers finished with a double and a single while Tidwell and Alex Sims each had a pair of hits.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.