Solid pitching forces Macon East-Edgewood series to third game
By Tim Gayle
After 14 innings of stellar pitching performances, neither Edgewood Academy nor Macon-East Montgomery were able to settle which team was the best in Alabama Independent School Association’s Class AA, so the two teams will go back out on Wednesday afternoon and play for seven more innings.
Logan Coleman pitched a gem in the opener to give the Knights a 3-2 victory before Hunter Elliott came back in the second game with a three-hit shutout and a 2-0 win for the six-time defending state champions.
Edgewood (36-8) and Macon-East Montgomery (35-10) will play the third and deciding game in the best-of-three series on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Paterson Field.
“We feel good,” Edgewood Academy coach Bobby Carr said. “I think we were a little uptight. We have a lot of seniors but a lot of those guys haven’t been on this stage. I could see us starting to play a little (late in the second game). The bottom line is, we’ve got to swing the bats better. We didn’t swing it like most Edgewood teams do and we have all year.”
Coleman (10-2) was brilliant in the opener. The left hander got in trouble with a pair of walks in the fourth inning but didn’t give up a hit until Jackson Tate ripped a two-out RBI double down the left field line to cut the lead to 3-2. Coleman recovered to retire Jolan Stieringer on a flyout to end the game.
“Edgewood’s a very good team, a good hitting team,” Coleman said. “I had my curveball working, I had my fastball working. Occasionally, I threw a couple of changeups in there for strikes. They’re a good-hitting team and they were putting it in play. I guess it just worked out in my favor.”
Actually, Edgewood didn’t put the ball in play often. Coleman, who has nearly 100 strikeouts this season, struck out nine Wildcats and only ran into trouble in the fourth inning with two of his six walks.
“He stepped up all year for us,” Macon-East Montgomery coach Bob Pickett said. “He’s been a huge part of the ballclub. He pounds the strike zone. I expected nothing less. A hard worker, he deserves everything he gets.”
Still, a no hitter wasn’t enough for most of the game. Edgewood sandwiched the walks and a pair of errors in the fourth inning to take a 1-0 lead that held up until the sixth inning when Hunter White doubled in a pair of runners off of starter Caleb Sullivan (7-3). Cannon Colwell followed with an infield single off of reliever Jon Johnson for a 3-1 lead which proved huge when the Wildcats rallied in the seventh.
“Our seniors have done it all year,” Pickett said. “I was waiting for it to happen that (second) game and it just didn’t. You have to tip your hat to their pitcher (Elliott). He did an outstanding job.”
In the second game, Chapman Dean (9-2) held the Wildcats to three hits, but they were timely and costly to the Knights’ championship hopes. Johnson led off with an infield single in the bottom of the first and scored an unearned run on an error. In the second, J.J. Kidd had an RBI single after a pair of walks opened the inning. Those two runs stood up as Elliott (10-0) scattered three singles and stayed out of trouble to force another game.
“Caleb Sullivan came out in the first game and threw a good game, but they were a little bit better,” Elliott said. “They got the ‘W,’ hats off to them. It was pretty nerve-wracking but my guys trusted me and I trusted them behind me in the field so I just did what I could.”
On a day when both coaches hoped their players would bring home a championship with offense, the day was dominated on the mound.
“(Coleman) did a good job of keeping us off stride,” Carr said. “A sign of a good pitcher is how is he going to respond when he’s on the big stage and he showed us all he’s a pretty dang good pitcher. I thought both of their guys did well. We got four hits in 14 innings, so hats off to them.”
“It’s hard to score runs when you get one leadoff runner on in two games and that’s what we just did today,” Pickett said. “We’ve got to change that. We’ve got pitching left, I feel good about our chances, we just need to sit back and relax and play baseball.”
Neither winning pitcher can take the mound today, but both expressed confidence in their team’s ability.
“We just have to pick each other up,” Coleman said. “We have to feed off the first win we had. Edgewood’s a good team. We just have to come together like we have all year and be there for each other.”
“I’m pretty upset that I’m not pitching again,” Elliott said, “but I think our team will handle it.”
Crenshaw wins Class A title
Crenshaw Christian’s Dalton Weeks and Kyler Weeks combined to hold Lowndes Academy to four hits over 14 innings as the Cougars pulled off a stunning sweep of the Rebels in the Alabama Independent School Association’s Class A state baseball playoffs at Paterson Field on Tuesday afternoon.
The Cougars (23-16) saved their best for last, holding Lowndes (17-16) to three hits in a 2-0 win and to one hit in a 10-0 game halted in the sixth inning by the 10-run mercy rule.
In the opener, the two teams battled through five scoreless innings before the Cougars finally broke through in the sixth. Dalton Weeks, who struck out five on the mound, reached on an error by pitcher Wade Howard and later scored an unearned run on a two-out single by Hunter Weeks. Clayton Hester followed with another single to make it 2-0.
Dalton Weeks, who had surrendered just one hit to that point, gave up singles to David Hussey in the sixth and Jimbo Wheeler in the seventh, but pitched out of jams both times to pick up the win.
In the second game, Kyler Weeks had a no-hitter broken up by Michael Scribner’s sixth-inning single, but struck out eight and allowed just the one hit in a 10-0 victory. Dalton Weeks, Collin Holloway and Brandon White all had two hits in the victory.