Pitchers lead way as Bulldogs blank Santa Fe
Pitching carried the Cornersville Bulldogs to a win in their season opener on Tuesday night, as they defeated District 11-A foe Santa Fe 1-0 at home to record their 17th straight victory over the Wildcats.
With senior pitcher and All-District performer Matt Callender currently nursing an injured shoulder, junior southpaw Jody Sullivan helped to pick up the slack on the mound for the Bulldogs. Sullivan notched seven strikeouts and scattered four hits and three walks in five scoreless innings of work to pick up the win.
Junior steps up
"District wins are always big. I thought Jody was great especially since this was his first meaningful varsity start," said CHS coach Ben Putman. "We already have two pretty good pitchers in Matt Callender and David Looney. With Matt being out, it's good that Jody stepped up today. He's put in a lot of work during the offseason to get better and it showed today."
After starting the game at catcher, Cody Blackburn came on in relief of Sullivan and racked up five strikeouts over the final two innings while allowing just one hit during that span to earn the save.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, mustered only three hits and five walks against two Santa Fe hurlers and left seven men on base overall, including six in scoring position.
Blackburn, Tyler Lowery, and Zach Richards each had one hit for Cornersville with Blackburn knocking in the lone run of the game, while Lowery recorded two stolen bases.
Wildcat starting pitcher Luke Anderson was the tough luck loser, as he yielded just one run over five and one-third innings on three hits and four walks to go along with three strikeouts. Chris Potts tallied two hits to lead Santa Fe at the plate, while Gage Holcomb, Justin Potts, and Garrett Warf each had one hit.
Sullivan worked around a one-out double by Chris Potts in the top of the first inning before the Bulldogs pushed across a run in the bottom half of the frame to take a 1-0 lead. After leading off the inning with a single, Lowery stole second prior to coming home on a one-out RBI double by Blackburn.
Santa Fe had a chance to get on the board in the top of the third after Warf and Holcomb both singled to put runners on first and second with no outs. Sullivan, though, escaped the jam by striking out the next two Wildcat batters while Blackburn picked off Holcomb at first to maintain the Bulldogs' slim lead.
Santa Fe halted
The Wildcats had another golden scoring opportunity in the fifth inning when they loaded the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but Bulldog second baseman Hayden McMahon made a diving catch on a line drive by Anderson before Sullivan retired Jacob Hilgert on a fly out to keep the shutout intact.
After Cornersville left men in scoring position in each of the next two innings, Santa Fe tried to engineer a rally attempt in the top of the seventh and put runners on first and third with two outs thanks to a hit batsman, a balk, and a single by Chris Potts. The Wildcats ended up coming away empty handed once again, as Blackburn struck out Anderson to clinch the victory for the Bulldogs.