Baseball: Two-out hits carry Piedmont to win in first game

Article and photos courtesy of the Macon Telegraph –> Original Article Here

Despite trailing through the first four innings, Piedmont was never really far away from the lead Friday in the first game of the GISA Class 2A championship series.

And the Cougars made Terrell Academy pay dearly for the game remaining close. Piedmont scored four two-out runs in the final three innings to win 4-1 and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series at Mercer’s OrthoGeorgia Park.

The Cougars (22-6) are now one win away from their fourth state championship in a row.

Piedmont tied the game in the fifth when courtesy runner Caleb Faircloth, on base in place of Sam Wright after he doubled, scored when Eagles shortstop William Chambless couldn’t handle a sharp grounder by Piedmont’s Tyler Mills. The Cougars scored the go-ahead run an inning later with some more hustle on the basepaths when JT Webb, running for catcher Jay Sheets after a single, came home on a passed ball.

Four who mattered

Sam Wright: The pitcher helped the Cougars win on the mound and at the plate. He reached base twice with his courtesy runner scoring each time, and he held the Eagles scoreless after a single run in the first, allowing four hits as a pitched a complete game.

Sheets: His single in the sixth helped set up what was the game’s go-ahead run.

Mack Brady: A well-placed bunt single in the seventh by the Cougars’ left fielder gave Piedmont some much-needed insurance with a 4-1 lead going into the bottom half of the inning.

Jared Donalson: The Eagles pitcher went all the way until two outs were on the board in the seventh and slowed down the Cougars at the plate, holding them to one earned run on seven hits.

Turning point

With two outs in the sixth, Terrell Academy was one batter away from going to the bottom half of the inning tied. But a passed ball thrown by Donalson got by catcher Matt Holbrook, and the Cougars beat the throw to home plate to take the lead.

Observations

Hustling it out: In a close game, the smallest of plays can make a big difference. That was the case for Piedmont on Friday. Its first run came as a result of a runner reaching base and then taking third on a groundout with the second run moving around the bases via a wild pitch and groundout. The Cougars weren’t done winning on the basepaths. A bunt single with two runners on caught the Eagles without their catcher covering home, easily allowing two runners to score.

They said it

Piedmont head coach Wes Tanner on the Cougars’ two-out runs: “Those were just grind it out at bats, we ran the bases pretty well. We found a way to get some runs when we needed them.”

Tanner on the Cougars’ opportunistic baserunning: “It’s just about going up there scrapping and competing. If you put the ball in play, good things happen.”

Tanner on not being complacent despite a 1-0 series lead: “We want to get the next one done. Those guys came back from a 1-0 hole last weekend just like we did, so we respect them a lot. We just have to keep grinding and get it done.”

What’s next?

The second game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and third game, if needed, will be at 7:30 p.m. unless the Class 3A final does not need a third game. In that case, Piedmont and Terrell Academy (24-2) would play at 4:30 p.m. if they need a third game.

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