Columbia snatches win from LCHS

Published 12:40 pm Thursday, April 2, 2015

COLUMBIA-The Columbia Wildcats scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to snatch a 4-3 win over the Lawrence County Cougars in Tuesday night action at John Sapen Field. Lawrence County led for most of the night, but Columbia put together 3 hits in the final frame to claim the important Division 7-4A win.

With the victory, Greg Owen’s Wildcats improved to 9-6 overall, and 4-1 in Division 7-4A play. Lawrence County, under first-year coach Josh Garrett, fell to 11-3 overall, and 4-1 in the division. The two teams will meet again, at Lawrence County’s Jimmie Davis Park, on Thursday evening.

“Our kids played hard, and played pretty well,” said Garrett, “but competing isn’t our goal. Our goal is to win these tough division games. We didn’t do that tonight. Hats off to Columbia. They did a good job.”

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Two hit batsmen and a misplayed sacrifice bunt helped Lawrence County to grab a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. The run scored on a Kasey Durr groundout. Columbia tied it in the bottom of the inning. Catcher Ethan Sill singled, moved to third on an errant pickoff attempt, and scored on a Logan McDowell single.

In the third, Cougar pitcher Kody Smith led off with a booming double to center. His courtesy runner scored on a Logan Greenlee single. Smith had another hit in a run-scoring rally in the top of the fifth. He and Josh Stephens both had singles, and Marcus Atterberry added an RBI groundout. LCHS led 3-1.

In defeat, Smith gave it a Herculean effort. He went 3-for-4 at the plate, and pitched 6 and 1/3 gutsy innings against the potent Columbia lineup. On the night, Smith gave up 10 hits and struck out 8.

Columbia started its comeback in the bottom of the fifth, cutting the lead to 3-2 when Wildcat center fielder Bryson Medious beat out what would have been an inning-ending groundout. Cougar partisans didn’t agree with the call at first base, but the Medious hit drove in a run, making it a 3-2 game.

It was still 3-2 entering the bottom of the seventh. Columbia’s Chris Pittman started the inning with an infield, legging out another close play at first base. Wildcat speedster C.J. Newsome then bounced into a fielder’s choice, but stole second and third bases easily. Newsome scored the tying run on a Scooter Ginn double, and Ginn scored the winner on a Bryson Medious single.

“To the naked eye,” said long-time LCHS assistant Craig Davis, “we lost the game in the bottom of the seventh. I didn’t see it that way. In all three of our scoring innings, we had runners at second and third, with none out. In each of those innings, we were only able to score one run. That tends to bite you eventually, and it did tonight.”

Columbia’s side-arming Logan McDowell matched Smith pitch for pitch. In 7 innings, he gave up 5 hits and struck out 8. All of the Cougars’ production came from the first four hitters in the LCHS lineup. The bottom five hitters were a collective 0-for-12, with 8 strikeouts.

“We’ve obviously got to be more productive in the bottom of the lineup,” said Davis. “We’ve got some awfully young guys there. We’ll keep working on it.”