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Cougars sweep North Pike for region crown

SUMMIT – Lawrence County swept a baseball double-header from North Pike Friday night at North Pike High School. All the drama was in the first game, as the visiting Cougars came to North Pike needing just one win to claim the Division 6-4A title. Lawrence County did that by winning the first game 8-5.

The second game was a bit anti-climactic, with the division championship having already been decided. But the Cougars continued to take care of business, pounding out a 10-1 win.

With those wins, Josh Garrett’s Cougars improved to 21-1 overall, and finished division play with a perfect 15-0 mark. North Pike, coached by George Lott, fell to 20-4 overall, and 12-3 in the division. Both teams entered the week with perfect 12-0 division marks. Thus, the series was basically a two-of-three battle for first place. LCHS got the upper hand on Tuesday with a 1-0 win in Monticello.

Game one was a see-saw affair, with the two teams swapping the lead through five innings. North Pike grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, on a Cade Killingsworth sacrifice fly. In the top of the second, Lawrence County’s Marcus Atterberry reached on an error and eventually scored on a wild pitch.

Seth Bass, Kasey Durr, and Atterberry put together singles in the third to give Lawrence County a 2-1 lead, only to see North Pike answer with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Connor Travis, Jacob Gill, and Ben Coney triggered the inning with consecutive singles. North Pike held a brief 4-2 lead, but the Cougars answered right back in the top of the fourth. Durr’s two-out, two-run single knotted the game at 4-4.

Both teams scored single runs in the fifth. For Lawrence County, T-Tez Cole led off with a single and came around to score when Josh Stephens’ sacrifice bunt was thrown away. North Pike got a game-tying two-out single from Tyler Alexander.

Lawrence County took control in the sixth, tallying three more runs for an 8-5 lead. A two-out RBI single by Stephens was the biggest hit. LCHS left-hander Brennan Lang made that lead stand up by retiring 6-of-7 Jaguar hitters over the last two innings.

Lang gave the Cougars a solid seven innings. He struck out two, walked three, and scattered seven hits. Bass and Durr led the LCHS offense with two hits each. Lang, Lewis, Stephens, Atterberry, Cole, and Brandon Bullock each had one.

Brantley Hughes started and went four-plus innings for North Pike. He was relieved in the fifth by Dalton Reed. Travis and Matthew Phillips each had two hits for the Jaguars. Gill, Coney, and Alexander each had one.

With the division title decided, the late game wasn’t as intense – or as close. North Pike grabbed a brief 1-0 lead on a Cade Killingsworth RBI single. In the top of the second, Cougar second baseman Gabriel Lewis drove home a run with a triple, then scored on a balk to give Lawrence County a 2-1 lead.

A Marcus Atterberry three-run homer highlighted a four-run third inning as LCHS built a 6-1 lead. In the fourth, Lawrence County put the game away with three more, as Durr hit a solo homer and Lewis had a run-scoring single. Rishad Haynes and Brandon Bullock put together doubles to score the Cougars’ final run in the top of the seventh.

Lawrence County pieced the game together with three different pitchers. Atterberry worked three innings, while Durr and Bullock each worked two. They combined to limit North Pike to a run on three hits.

Connor Travis, Cade Killingsworth, Jacob Gill and Jonah Bankston all pulled mound duty for the Jaguars. Killingsworth, Bankston, and Parker Phillips had hits.

Both the Cougars and Jaguars will open best-of-three playoff series at home on Friday. Lawrence County will host Northeast Lauderdale. North Pike, which came within a game of going to the 4A championship round last season, will face Northeast Jones.