Bulldogs hold off Columbia Academy in tournament

Friday, May 9, 2014
Cornersville second baseman Chance Dyer throws out Columbia Academy's Blake Luna at first base after fielding a slow rolling groundball in the bottom of the second inning. Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

On Tuesday night, the Cornersville Bulldogs (16-11) advanced to the District 11-A tournament championship game by defeating top seeded Columbia Academy 4-3 in the third round at Mt. Pleasant High School.

Having split the regular season series with CA, the Bulldogs got off to a fast start and built a 4-0 lead through the first three and a half innings of play.

Threats ended

Cornersville right fielder J.D. Crabtree catches a fly ball by Columbia Academy's Scott Lentz in the bottom of the first inning.

Columbia Academy (18-10-1) sliced the deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning, but staff ace David Looney carried Cornersville to the finish line by snuffing out two CA scoring threats over the final three frames to help CHS hold on for the one-run victory.

"We're not the most talented team, but we fight, scratch, and claw to win games. The guys find a way to get it done when it matters," said Cornersville coach Ben Putman.

With Tuesday's triumph, the Bulldogs also earned a spot in the Region 6-A tournament for the third time in four years.

Bulldog starting pitcher Jody Sullivan and Looney kept Columbia Academy's bats silent for much of the evening and limited CA to just three hits overall. Sullivan picked up the victory for CHS and allowed three runs over four innings on two hits and six walks to go along with five strikeouts. Looney earned the save by yielding just one hit in three scoreless innings of work while piling up seven strikeouts.

Gamble pays off

"Jody was very good, but ran into a little trouble so we rolled the dice with David," said Putman. "David gets better the tougher the situation is. He feeds off of emotion so the tighter the spot the better he pitches."

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, finished with eight hits and a walk against Columbia Academy starting hurler Ben Phillips. Tate Lowery (2 RBI) and Fox (1 RBI) tallied two hits apiece to lead CHS at the plate, while Looney (1 RBI), Sullivan, Crabtree, and Dyer each had one hit.

Blake Luna (1 RBI) doubled to account for CA's lone extra base hit of the game, while Phillips (2 RBI) and Drew Thornton both singled.

Neither team advanced a man into scoring position in the first two innings of play before Cornersville pushed across three runs in the top of the third to grab a 3-0 lead. Crabtree singled and reached second on an error by CA's right fielder prior to advancing to third on a bunt single by Dyer. Crabtree then raced home on a RBI infield single by Lowery, before Dyer and Lowery both moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. After Dyer scored on a Looney sacrifice fly, Fox drove in Lowery with a RBI single.

More scoring

Columbia Academy stranded two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the third before the Bulldogs plated another run in the top of the fourth inning with the help of a walk, an error, a hit batsman, and a Lowery RBI single to open up a 4-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the fourth, CA put a dent in Cornersville's lead by crossing home plate three times in the frame on the strength of a bases loaded walk by Luna and a Phillips two-run single to narrow the gap to 4-3.

Columbia Academy had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth when Luna belted a leadoff double, but Looney retired the next three Columbia Academy batters on a groundout and a pair of strikeouts to escape the inning unscathed.

Looney then worked around a two-out error and a passed ball in the seventh inning to close out the win for the Bulldogs.