Errors impede Bulldogs in District title game

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Cornersville's David Looney slides safely into third base while advancing 90 feet on a wild pitch in the top of the first inning against Columbia Academy. Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

On Thursday afternoon, the Cornersville Bulldogs (16-12) missed a chance to claim their second straight District 11-A tournament title when they suffered a gut wrenching 5-4 loss to Columbia Academy in the championship round at Mt. Pleasant High School.

Needing to win just one of two games on Thursday to take home the title, Cornersville appeared to be on the cusp of claiming the championship after taking a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.

Late heartbreak

The Bulldogs, however, handed the game away at the end, as CA (20-10-1) scored two unearned runs with two outs in the seventh inning thanks to two Cornersville errors to force a deciding game later that evening.

"It's one of the tougher losses that I've experienced. Anytime you have a chance to win a championship and let it slip away it's heartbreaking," said CHS coach Ben Putman.

Bulldog starting pitcher David Looney turned in a gritty performance on the mound, but was unable to overcome five Cornersville errors and suffered the loss after allowing five unearned runs in six and two-third innings of work on six hits and six walks to go along with six strikeouts.

"David didn't give up any earned runs and didn't have some calls go his way, but he gave us every chance to win the game. We just didn't take it," said Putman.

Plenty of hits

Cornersville finished with nine hits and three walks against Columbia Academy starting pitcher Drew Thornton. Tyler Lowery went 2-for-4 with a RBI to lead the Bulldogs offensively. Ben Taylor (1 RBI), J.D. Crabtree (1 RBI), Tate Lowery, Looney, Aaron Fox, Jody Sullivan, and Chance Dyer each tallied one hit for CHS as well.

Price Martin and Thornton notched two hits apiece to pace CA at the plate, while Blake Hayes and Billy Thurman both had one hit.

The Bulldogs got off to a promising start and pushed across two runs in the top of the first inning to grab a 2-0 lead. Looney singled and advanced to second on an error by Columbia Academy's left fielder prior to moving up to third on a wild pitch. Tyler Lowery then roped a RBI single into right field to drive in Looney before Fox drew a walk. After Lowery was erased on the base paths on a fielder's choice by Sullivan, courtesy runner Nate Huitt advanced to third on a wild pitch prior to coming home on a throwing error by CA's catcher.

Columbia Academy cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the first on a Blake Hayes double, an error, and a sacrifice fly by Nick Hayes before plating a run in the third inning with the help of a Thornton single, an error, and a sacrifice fly by Blake Luna to knot the game at 2-2.

Cornersville's Nate Huitt rounds third base while scoring on an RBI single by Ben Taylor in the top of the fifth inning against Columbia Academy.

Mid-game lead

The Bulldogs mounted an immediate response and tallied a run in the top of the fourth to seize a 3-2 lead. Sullivan drew a leadoff walk before advancing to third on a Curt Taylor sacrifice bunt and a balk. Crabtree then brought home Sullivan by lining a RBI single into left centerfield.

CA scored another unearned run in the bottom of the fourth with the aid of two walks, a Martin bunt single, and a CHS throwing error to knot the contest at 3-3, but Cornersville responded with a run in the top of the fifth to claim a 4-3 advantage.

Following a one-out single by Fox, courtesy runner Nate Huitt advanced to second on a single by Sullivan before racing home on a Ben Taylor RBI single.

Looney held CA scoreless the next two innings, but saw his defense spring a couple more leaks in the bottom of the seventh. After Ben Phillips was hit by a pitch with one out, pinch runner Jackson Scott scored on a two-out single by Thurman when Cornersville's right fielder allowed the ball to get bounce past him. Thurman then scored on an Bulldog throwing error to give Columbia Academy the 5-4 victory after Looney induced Martin to hit a routine groundball to the second baseman.