Two and through

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

In one afternoon, Morgan Academy’s postseason was done.

The Senators fell in a two-game sweep by Cottage Hill, losing 5-1 and 8-4 Friday afternoon.

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Morgan (14-13) managed just two hits in game one and never recovered after losing a one-run lead early in game two.

“What broke down for us is we just don’t have much depth,” coach Rob Robinson said. “The other thing is that’s a pretty good ball team we just lost to. They started hitting the ball and won the game. We knew they were going to bunt and run, and we were going to have to keep people off the bases. We just didn’t do that.”

With the series win, Cottage Hill advanced in the playoffs for the first time in school history.

Freshman pitcher Tray Cockrell tossed a complete game and struck out eight batters to pace the Warriors (30-7) to a win in the opener.

Heath Harrelson led off the bottom of first with a walk and scored when cleanup hitter Jay Gilmer hit a double. Even though the Senators’ only other hit came via a double by Daniel Lee in the second inning, they still had chances to capitalize off five walks and two errors.

But Cockrell kept wriggling out of jams and got stronger as the game went on. Five of his strikeouts came in the last three innings, and he faced two batters over the minimum in that span. He also led his team at the plate, going 4-for-4 in the game.

Cottage Hill took a while to get its bats going, but it got all the offense it needed in the fifth inning. Five runs on five hits – including a two-run single from Corey Powell and RBI singles both from Trey Northcutt and Myles Minton – gave the Warriors a lead they held for good.

“We’re hitting .345 as a team, even though we don’t hit a lot of home runs,” Cottage Hill coach Chris Brazell said. “We’ve had several come-from-behind wins this season.

There are seven seniors on this team, and they know how to get the job done.”

Thomas Austin took the loss for Morgan after pitching three innings of relief. He allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits, walked two batters and struck out one.

Starter Clint Maroney pitched four shutout innings, gave up four hits, walked four and struck out three in the no-decision.

Cottage Hill got going a little earlier in the nightcap, scoring three times in the first inning.

Ben Negus drove in two runs after a double and an error and later scored.

The Senators caught a few more breaks this game, however. They took advantage of Minton, normally one of the Warriors’ most reliable pitchers, and got two runs in each of the first two innings.

Brad Averitt got home on an error at shortstop, and Maroney scored after Ben Tate was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the first inning.

Minton was lifted from the game after he walked in a run with one out in the second. Reliever Ty Dalton issued a two-out, bases loaded walk for Morgan’s fourth run, and the fireworks began after the inning ended.

Brazell ran his players down to the right field foul pole and very loudly reminded them what was on the line.

It worked. The first five Cottage Hill batters reached base in the third. Powell and Luke Stanton hit RBI singles to spark a three-run inning that gave the Warriors a 6-4 lead, and they never trailed again.

“The thing about us is we’re a good ball club, we just have a tendency to get lackadaisical at times,” Brazell said. “We’re not going to be successful if we don’t drive in runs. And it was surprising that Minton didn’t do his job. He’s a senior, and he’s 8-2 this year.”

Minton lasted just 1 1-3 innings, allowed four runs (none earned), walked four batters and struck out three.

Dalton got the win after working 5 2-3 innings, walking two and striking out six.

The one downside for Cottage Hill was the 13 runners they left on base during the game.

Despite that, Robinson said it was tough adjusting to Cottage Hill’s offensive ability.

“We just played the game by ear and let it come to us,” he said. “They started hitting the ball, and our hitting tailed off. But we’re young, and we’ll be back.”