By Don Brown
May 25, 2014
Joseph Anthony’s two-run, sixth-inning home run broke a 3-3 tie with the Trinity Raiders and gave the Cougar baseball team the runs it needed to capture the championship of the 12th District Tournament Wednesday at Don Lee Field.
The Raiders entered the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the 3rd Region, having won 11 of their last 13 games, including an eight-game win streak. They defeated Butler County 5-1 on Monday to reach Wednesday’s final.
In the final, the Raiders came out swinging the bats early against Anthony, the Cougar starter. A leadoff single by Skyler Dickens, a single by starting pitcher Allen Howe, and a double by Drew Mills plated a run in the first inning, and left runners at second and third with just one out.
But Anthony knuckled down and struck out Daniel Morris and Blake Booker to get out of the inning trailing by just a run.
But Anthony ran into trouble again in the third inning. Nathaniel Mills ripped a one-out double to the wall in right-center, then scored on a single to right by Howe to put the Raiders in front 2-0.
Anthony pitched the first four innings for the Cougars, allowing just the two runs on five hits. He walked no one, hit one batter, and struck out five. Left-hander Gage Akridge pitched the final three innings and picked up the win after Anthony went deep in the sixth. Akridge allowed one unearned run on four hits, walked one and struck out four.
The Cougars could do little at the plate against Howe in the first three innings. Logan Ramsey led off the first inning with a single, but was erased at second base on a steal attempt. Howe then retired the next eight straight batters until the Cougars finally broke through against him in the fourth inning.
Ramsey, who was 3-for-3 on the day, led off the fourth with a single and went to second on a single by Jameson Van Meter. Wyatt Skaggs followed with a shot to first-baseman Nathaniel Mills, who stepped on first for the out, then threw to shortstop Drew Mills for the tag of Van Meter and the 3-6 double play.
Ramsey was able to move to third base on the play, and Howe was overly conscious of him there, stepping off the rubber a couple of times before finally trying a pickoff throw, which was high and down the line in left, allowing Ramsey to score to make it 2-1.
Grayson County took its first lead of the game with a two-run rally in the fifth inning. With one out, Logan Stevenson beat out an infield hit then went to second on a single to left from designated-hitter Jordan Turner.
Dylan Woodcock forced Turner at second on a grounder to short for the second out of the inning. Howe then walked Dylan Yaden to load the bases for Ramsey, who picked on an 0-1 pitch and sent it back through the middle to plate Stevenson and Woodcock and give the Cougars their first lead of the game.
The Raiders scored an unearned run against Akridge in the sixth inning to tie things 3-3. Drew Mills singled with one out before Akridge struck out Daniel Morris for the second out. Booker then hit a grounder to short that should have been the final out of the inning, but Yaden booted the ball and the Raiders had life.
Second-baseman Eric Howard followed by lining a double down the line in left. Mills scored to tie the game, and when Skaggs had trouble picking up the ball against the fence, Booker rounded third and tried to score as well. But Skaggs got the ball in to Stevenson at third, and his relay toss to Ramsey at home was in plenty of time to cut down Booker and end the inning.
In the Cougars’ sixth, Skaggs led off with a single up the middle and was sacrificed to second by first-baseman Alex Shellhart. That brought up Anthony, and the senior center-fielder hit the first pitch he saw from Howe, sending it high over the fence in center field for what turned out to be the winning runs.
The Raiders had a runner on base in the seventh inning on a one-out error, but Akridge retired Skyler Dickens on a pop-up, then got Nathaniel Mills to ground out to end the game.
In ceremonies following the game, 12th District honors were awarded. The All-Academic Team consisted of Anthony, from Grayson County, Howe, from Trinity, Clark Parker, from Butler County, and Hunter Houchins, from Edmonson County.
Named tp the regular season 12th District Team were, Van Meter, Skaggs and Ramsey, from Grayson County, Dickens, Nathaniel Mills and Drew Mills, from Trinity, Caleb Hunt, Blake Graham and Rex Henderson, from Butler County, and Alex Basil, Chase Blanton and Drew Decker, from Edmonson County.
On the All-Tournament Team were Eddie Phelps, from Butler County, Dickens and Drew Mills, from Trinity, Basil and Houchins, from Edmonson County, and Skaggs, Ramsey and Akridge, from Grayson County.