BA ties series 2-all; falls to Simpson Co.

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 11, 2001

They extended it to a third game, but the best season in 10years came to an end last night as Simpson Academy eliminated theBrookhaven Academy Cougars in the South State 2A Championship atCougar Field.

BA, trailing the best-of-three series 1-0 after losing theopener 5-1, got a masterful pitching performance from Adam Smith inGame 2 to pull out a 2-1 victory and force a deciding third game.But Mother Nature played a cruel trick on the homestanding Cougarsin the nightcap with a driving rain in the top of the first inningthat played havoc with BA’s pitching staff. Simpson Academy tookadvantage of the slippery ball en route to a 3-0 lead. BA neverrecovered after that and fell 12-2. Simpson Academy improved to28-5 while the Cougars finished at 17-12.

“We were one game away from playing for it all,” said BA headcoach Ron Rushing. “I’m disappointed in the outcome. but we pulledtogether as a team this year and showed a lot of people where ourprogram is headed. We lose one player from this year’s squad, so weshould be right back in the thick of the 2A race next season.”

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Brookhaven Academy 2, Simpson Academy 1

The game developed into a pitcher’s duel between BA’s Smith andSimpson Academy ace Mitch Mangum.

BA struck first in the bottom of the first when Paul Cokersingled sharply off the glove of third baseman Wade May. After astrikeout, Chad Lagrone walked and senior Brandon Achord reached onan error by May. Layne Moreton’s fielder’s choice plated Coker togive BA a 1-0 lead. They made it 2-0 in the bottom of the third ona leadoff single by Kelly Allred. Smith was then hit by a pitch.Coker then bunted in front of the mound. Mangum picked up the balland fired wildly to first allowing Allred to score from second.

Simpson Academy’s lone run came in the top of the fifth whenZach Baldwin’s double drove in May, who had been hit by apitch.

“Adam (Smith) pitched a great game,” said Rushing. “Our defensewas up to the task when we needed it and came through when we hadto have it.”

The visitors from Mendenhall had a chance to at least tie it inthe top of the sixth when they put two runners on base via walks.But BA right fielder Jeffrey Waycaster made a sliding catch of apotential extra base hit off the bat of Drew Hubbard to end thethreat.

“Waycaster’s catch was a big one for us, but he’s been doingthat the entire season,” said Rushing.

Smith, Allred, Coker and Chad Lagrone had hits for BA. LanceSasser, Mangum, Nick Lee and Baldwin produced hits for SimpsonAcademy.

Smith allowed four hits in going the distance. He recorded fourstrikeouts, two walks and one hit batsman. Mangum struck out sixand walked three for Simpson Academy.

Simpson Academy 12, Brookhaven Academy 2

Brookhaven Academy’s spirits were drowned in the first inning.Heavy rain, five walks, two errors and two wild pitches stakedSimpson Academy to a 3-0 lead.

“We all hoped it wouldn’t rain, but it did and the conditionshurt us,” said Rushing. “It was hard for our pitchers to grip theball, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Coker started the third and deciding game, but was unable tohandle the wet conditions. The Cougars ended up using four pitchersin a losing effort.

“After we got behind early, it seemed to take a lot out of usand we just couldn’t get anything going,” said Rushing.

Simpson Academy made it 4-0 in the top of the fifth when BoyceeVarnes drove in Mangum with a groundout. They added four runs inboth the sixth and seventh innings.

“We started throwing the ball around defensively in the sixthinning and that was basically it,” added Rushing.

Sasser (2-0) picked up the win for Simpson Academy allowing tworuns on four hits. He struck out four and walked four. Coker (3-2)took the loss.

Jeb Lee, Varnes, Nick Lee and Baldwin had two hits each forSimpson Academy. Mangum added a single.

Smith had three hits and Allred one for Brookhaven Academy.