Cougars take pair from South Pike

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2005

MONTICELLO — The Lawrence County High Cougars wrapped up theirfirst Division 6-4A baseball championship since 1997, hammering theSouth Pike Eagles in a division double-header Friday night atJimmie Davis Park.

Needing a double-header sweep to win the division, the Cougarswon the first game, 13-3, and the second game, 21-3. The win alsosecured the Cougars’ right to host the four-team,double-elimination tournament, beginning next Thursday, whichserves as the first round of the state 4A playoffs.

Lawrence County improved to 21-5 overall, and 11-1 in Division6-4A play. The Cougars edged Terry in the division race, as theBulldogs finished division play at 10-2. The division titlerealized a pre-season goal for first-year coach Cory Keyes and hisCougars.

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“That was one of the goals we talked about back in January,”Keyes said. “Honestly, I didn’t know how realistic that was at thetime, but I’m very proud of our team. Winning this division is agreat accomplishment for these kids. They’ve done everything I’veasked of them, and they should be proud of this.”

Lawrence County had a chance to clinch the division, at Terry,one week earlier. Terry stayed alive by winning that game, 4-2.Thus, to win the division, the Cougars had to beat Jim Hill onTuesday, and sweep the double-header against South Pike. LCHS didso in a resounding manner, winning the 3 games by a combined scoreof 55-8.

Lawrence County 13, South Pike 3

In Friday’s first game, Lawrence County scored 4 runs in thefirst. A 2-run double by pitcher Jake Russell was the biggest blow.The Cougars added an unearned run in the third, making it a 5-0game.

Things got a bit tense in the top of the fourth. South Pike tookadvantage of a single, a walk, a hit batsman, and an error, to cutthe Cougars’ lead to 5-3. .

With a chance for the division title on the line, LawrenceCounty responded. The Cougars scored 2 in the bottom of the fourth,as Johnathan Stephens had an RBI single. In the fifth, Russell,after his second double, was singled home by Nick Jackson. TheCougars then ended the game in the bottom of the sixth, scoring 5times. The highlight was a 2-run homer by designated hitter MartyBallard.

Jake Russell worked 6 solid innings to earn the win. After hisfourth-inning struggles, Russell retired the last 8 South Pikebatters, 6 of them via the strikeout. For the game, he allowed 3hits and struck out 10.

Stephens led the Cougars with 3 hits. Evans and Russell each had2. Ballard, Jackson, Trent Hartzog, Michael Thompson, and JeremyWilliams each had 1.

Lawrence County 21, South Pike 3

In the second game, South Pike took a 1-0 lead in the top of thesecond, but that was the Eagles’ last highlight. Lawrence Countyscored 13 in the bottom of the inning, then 8 more in the bottom ofthe third. South Pike conceded defeat after batting in the top ofthe fourth.

Second-inning homers by Marty Ballard and Nick Jackson triggeredthe Cougar uprising. Evans and Stephens each had 2 hits. Ballard,Jackson, Jeremy Williams, Zachary Summers, Murphy Peyton, MichaelThompson, J.P. Lewis, and Trent Hartzog each had 1.

Joseph Evans went 3 and 1/3 innings to get the win. He allowed 3runs on 3 hits, walked 4, and struck out 2. Mackenzie Woods came into get the final 2 outs.

The 4-team playoff tournament will feature the host the divisionchampion Cougars, third place McComb, and the second andfourth-place teams from Division 5-4A. The tournament will beplayed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.