Lawrence Co. can’t sweep Columbia

Published 6:41 pm Monday, April 12, 2010

MONTICELLO – Columbia and Lawrence County split a varsitybaseball doubleheader Friday night at Jimmie Davis Park. LawrenceCounty won the first game 8-2 but Columbia rebounded to win thelate game, 8-7. Coupled with Columbia’s 4-2 win in the first gameof the series, the Wildcats claimed two of three in the series, andvirtually assured themselves of a spot in the Class 4A baseballplayoffs. Lawrence County, which also lost two of three to NorthPike, will likely find itself left out.

“It stings,” said sixth-year Lawrence County coach Cory Keyes.”We’re not used to being left out and we don’t like being left out.But while I’m disappointed, I’m not disappointed with the effortour kids put out there tonight. We knew we had to sweep tonight,and our kids gave it everything they could possibly give.”

With the double header split, Coach Greg Owen’s Wildcats improvedto 15-6 on the season, and 8-1 in Division 7-4A play. LawrenceCounty stands at 14-7 overall, and 5-4 in the division. Lastseason, four teams from each division made the baseball playoffs,and next year, three teams will be playoff bound. This season,however, only two are moving on as the Mississippi High SchoolActivities Association experiments with the playoff format.

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After Willie Buckley pitched the Cougars to a relatively easyvictory in the first game of the double-header, Lawrence County’splayoff hopes came down to the late game. LCHS battled back fromdeficits to tie the game twice, first at 3-3, and later at 6-6.Columbia scored single runs in the fifth and sixth, to grab an 8-6lead.

Lawrence County’s Scott Votaw homered in the bottom of the seventh,to cut the margin to 8-7, but the game ended with Cougar firstbaseman Jamie McCardle flying out to right field with the basesloaded.

The player most responsible for Columbia’s successful week wasjunior left-hander Ryan Ellis. He pitched the final 4 innings inthe Wildcats’ win on Tuesday, and threw a 7-inning complete game inthe decisive third game.

It was Ellis’ mammoth solo homer in the bottom of the sixth offCougar ace Scott Votaw that gave Columbia the insurance run itturned out to need.

“Ellis is a great competitor,” Coach Keyes said. “He put on ahitting show in Meridian (at the State Games) last summer, and hecame up big for them tonight. Hats off to him.”

Columbia led 3-1 in the bottom of the third, when Votaw’s 2-runsingle knotted the game at 3-3. In the top of the fourth, theWildcats scored 3 more off LCHS freshman Jordan McCaffrey. Twosingles, 2 hit batsmen, a walk, and a dropped fly ball did thetrick. Undaunted, the Cougars came right back with 3 of their own,as Adam Watson and Willie Buckley had RBI singles.

In the top of the fifth, Aaron Ellzey’s RBI single off Cougarreliever Ethan Foster gave the Wildcats the lead for good, and inthe sixth, Ellis’ towering homer provided the insurance. That setup the LCHS rally that fell just short.

First baseman Blake Sistrunk led Columbia with 3 hits. Ty Randalland Hakeem Forbes each had 2. Ellis, Ellzey, Forrest Dungan, andVan Morris also had hits. In 7 innings on the mound, Ellis struckout 8.

Votaw and Watson led Lawrence County with 2 hits each. Buckley,Lane Stephens, and Jordan Grayson also had hits. Freshman McCaffreywas fairly effective. He worked 4 innings, but was hurt by 4 hitbatsmen

Lawrence County’s win in the first game created the late-gamedrama. The Cougars had a fairly easy time of it, with Buckleylimiting the Wildcats to 2 runs on 4 hits, and striking out7.

With the game tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the third, the Cougarsexploded for 5 runs. Keith Martin and Lane Stephens hadback-to-back 2-run singles.

Stephens and Martin each had 2 hits for the Cougars. Watson,Buckley, Tucker Smith, and Dylan Lea each had 1.

Ty Randall, Hakeem Forbes, Forrest Dungan, and Ellis had hits forColumbia. Ellis’ hit was a towering opposite-field shot over theleft field fence.