Bulldogs tame Lions in state
On Wednesday morning, the Cornersville Bulldogs proved they belonged on the big stage, as they recorded their first ever win in the Class A State tournament by defeating the Scotts Hill Lions 3-1 at Riverdale High School in the opening round of the loser's bracket.
Aided by another strong pitching performance from sophomore hurler David Looney, the Bulldogs (20-15) built a 3-0 lead through the first three innings of play before staving off a late comeback attempt by Scotts Hill in the top of the seventh inning to claim their 20th victory of the year.
"It's another first. It's been a year where we've done a lot of things that we haven't done before," said Cornersville coach Ben Putman. "I think the short turnaround might have been good for us because we didn't have time to dwell on our last game. This bunch shakes stuff off pretty quickly and they do a good job of moving on."
Having already won four games this postseason coming into Wednesday's contest, Looney once again came up big on the mound for the Bulldogs, as he recorded seven strikeouts in seven innings of work while limiting the Lions to just three hits and three walks en route to earning his ninth victory of the year.
Cornersville catcher Cody Blackburn also aided Looney's cause by throwing out two Scotts Hill runners on the base paths.
"I mainly stayed with my off speed pitches because I was having success with it," said Looney. "I'm glad I was able to come through for the team, but without them behind me I wouldn't have been able to do it."
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, finished with six hits and four walks against three Lion pitchers. Blackburn tallied two hits to lead Cornersville at the plate, while Jacob Griffis (1 RBI), Matt Callender, Tyler Lowery, and Looney all notched one hit.
Scotts Hill starting pitcher Caston Maners suffered the loss after allowing three runs over two and two-third innings on five hits and two walks. Payton Wilkinson, Ty Flanagan, and Hunter Pope each had one hit for the Lions.
Scotts Hill stopped
Scotts Hill had a chance to take the lead in the top of the first inning when Flanagan drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a Pope sacrifice bunt, and stole third with one out. The Lions would end up coming away empty handed, as Blackburn picked Flanagan off third before Looney fanned Colton Hinson to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second, the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead when Callender raced home on a two-out RBI single by Griffis after singling and advancing to second on a Zach Richards sacrifice bunt.
Looney then worked around a leadoff walk by Jared Cavness in the top of the third, before Cornersville pushed across two more runs in the bottom half of the frame to open up a 3-0 advantage. After the Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out on singles by Looney, Lowery, and Blackburn, Neil Davis and Richards both drew RBI walks to give CHS a three-run cushion.
The Lions then stranded men on first and second in the top of the fourth before leaving the bases loaded in the fifth inning.
Scotts Hill finally got on the board in the top of the seventh and plated a run with two outs thanks to a hit batsman, a passed ball, and a Bulldog error to narrow the gap to 3-1.
Looney, though, settled down and retired Pope on a fielder's choice to secure the victory for the Bulldogs.
With their win over the Lions, CHS earned a rematch with Grace Christian Academy in the loser's bracket final after the Rams lost 6-5 to Friendship Christian in the second round of the tourney later in the day.