Morgan Academy holds off Fort Dale in tight games
Published 10:26 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2018
The Morgan Academy Senators (9-13) baseball team preserved its one-run lead with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Fort Dale Academy 4-3 Tuesday night.
Morgan’s starting pitcher Sawyer Hopkins went all seven innings for his team, but Fort Dale threatened to rally late in the game.
“[Hopkins] was spectacular,” Morgan head coach Seth Currie said. “He had some rough innings that he worked his way out of, but he really battled on the mound for us all night.”
Going into the game, Currie wasn’t sure who would get the start, but Hopkins wanted the ball, and he made his outing count.
“He kept saying all week he wanted the ball,” Currie said. “He got it, and showed us what he wanted it for.”
Hopkins had a two-run lead going into the top of the seventh, and just needed three outs to end the game.
He got the first two batters of the inning out on a ground out and a pop out, but had some trouble shutting the door on Fort Dale.
He loaded the bases on a walk, hit the next batter and walked another.
Morgan head coach Seth Currie walked out to the mound to talk to his pitcher, and decided to leave him in the ball game.
“I knew he was going to step up for us,” Currie said. “I had a gut feeling that he was going to find an out for us. When I went out there, I just told him to relax. We were looking for soft contact, and that’s exactly what he found.”
Hopkins walked the next batter and the tying-run moved up to third base. Hopkins was 116 pitches into the game, and his fatigue was hindering his ability to locate his pitches.
“I was just trying to concentrate,” he said. “My body got tired and worn down, so I was just trying to throw strikes.”
However, he found a way to go after Fort Dale’s eight-hole hitter and forced him into a ground out to shortstop Gunnar Henderson.
“I was confident that I’d go out there, and [my teammates] would make the plays behind me,” Hopkins said.
Henderson flipped the ball to second baseman Britton Adams for the force out to get Hopkins out of the jam.
In addition to earning the win, Hopkins helped himself at the plate early in the game. He was 2-for-4 at the plate with a 2RBI single in the third inning that put the Senators on the scoreboard.
“[The pitcher] got me into a hole and I had to fight out of it,” Hopkins said. “I got some pretty decent wood on it and put it in the gap.”
The Senators offense executed at crucial points in the game to help build their lead.
Matthew Davis’ successful hit-and-run in the fourth inning setup Adams’ sacrifice fly to center that scored Peyton Egbert and gave the Senators a 3-1 lead.
In the fifth inning, Egbert drove a single into left field with two-outs for a clutch RBI to give the team the cushion they needed to hold off Fort Dale.
“We really did some things well today,” Currie said. “I think we’re really taking stride now. If we can continue to compete like we are, get a good pitching performance like this, make the plays behind him and swing it at the plate, that’s what you’re looking for in this time of the season.”
On the softball diamond, the Lady Senators avoided the season series sweep and defeated Fort Dale 3-2.
“We’ve been off-and-on with how well we do,” Morgan softball head coach Cherie Grimes said. “It was an important win all the way around. They had already beaten us best 2-of-3, but it feels good to give it back to them and not let them get away with [the sweep].”
The game was tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Morgan’s Bailey Brown started a late rally by reaching first safely on a fielder’s choice play with two-outs.
The next batter was seventh-grader Sarah Grace Holladay, who was playing in her second career varsity game.
On an 0-1 pitch, Holladay brought in the go-ahead run with a single to right field to give the Lady Senators a 3-2 lead.
“It felt good. I was just surprised and shocked,” she said. “My teammates were cheering me on and happy for me.”
Fort Dale worked a two-out walk to get the tying run on first base, but a fielder’s choice to the shortstop got their lead runner out to end the game.
Ansley Smitherman was the winning pitcher for the Lady Senators. She allowed seven hits and two runs, but only walked one batter in seven innings of work.
“We worked the batters hard and kept it outside a lot,” Grimes said. “[Smitherman] has a lot of good pitches, and she was on today.”
The Senators next home game is Thursday at 3:30 p.m. against Edgewood Academy.