Bulldogs rally for 11-A crown
Wednesday night, the Cornersville Bulldogs (17-9) captured their second District 11-A tournament title in three years by defeating the Richland Raiders 5-3 in the championship game at Columbia Academy.
Cornersville had won all three previous meetings against Richland this season, which included an 11-1 victory in the second round of the tournament five days earlier, but the Raiders put some early pressure on CHS in Wednesday's contest and held a 3-0 lead through the first two and a half innings.
The Bulldogs, however, regained their composure and pushed across four runs in the bottom of the third to seize a 4-3 advantage before tacking on an insurance run in the sixth inning to claim the District crown.
Thanks to Wednesday's triumph, CHS advanced to the Region 6-A tournament for the third consecutive year and will host the District 12-A runner-up on Monday night versus the loser of the Summertown/ Loretto match-up in District 12-A.
"We have definitely gotten a little more competitive the last few weeks and the kids are battling. Hopefully we can keep playing well and see how far this thing can go," said Cornersville coach Ben Putman.
Bulldog staff ace David Looney went the distance on the mound and earned his eighth win of the year after allowing three runs, one earned, in seven innings of work on five hits and four walks while racking up 15 strikeouts.
"I felt comfortable on the mound tonight because we've been swinging the bats well lately and scoring some runs. We had run support the whole tournament so it made my job a lot easier," said Looney, who was named MVP for both the regular season and the tournament.
The Bulldogs also tallied five hits against two Richland hurlers to go along with five walks and two hit batsmen. Chance Dyer (2 RBI), Aaron Fox (1 RBI), Ben Taylor (1 RBI), Hunter Talley, and Graham Duke each notched one hit apiece for Cornersville.
Richland starting pitcher Nick Barron suffered the loss and yielded five runs over 5 1/3 innings. Zack Gordon notched two hits to pace the Raiders at the plate, while William McRae added a two-run homer.
Richland left a man at second in each of the first two innings, but broke through for three runs in the top of the third to grab a 3-0 lead. Gordon reached base on an error before McRae cranked a two-run homer over the left centerfield fence. Bryce Bub then singled and stole second prior to coming home on an errant pickoff throw by Looney.
The Bulldogs quickly erased the deficit by scoring four runs in the bottom of the third to pull ahead 4-3. Ben Taylor was hit by a pitch to start the inning before Talley drew a walk. Talley was thrown out at second on a fielder's choice by Tate Lowery, but Looney drew a walk to load the bases with one out. After Fox drove in Taylor with a RBI infield single, Lowery scampered home on a wild pitch to narrow the gap to 3-2. Dyer then plated courtesy runners Blake Calahan and Justin Black by lacing a two-run single into centerfield.
The Raiders advanced the tying run into scoring position in each of the next two innings, but Looney picked off courtesy runner Skylar Tarpley at second to end the top of the fourth before striking out the last two batters in the fifth to snuff out another Richland scoring threat.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Bulldogs stretched their lead to 5-3 when Chance Dyer raced home on a two-out RBI bloop single by Taylor after drawing a walk and advancing to second on a hit batsman.
Gordon tried to start a Raider rally by singling with one out in the top of the seventh, but Looney struck out Caleb Briggs before second baseman Graham Duke caught a line drive by McRae to end the game.
Richland 003 00 00---3 8 0
Cornersville 004 001----5 5 0
Richland: Zak Gordon 3-for-4, William McRae 2-for-3, Bryce Bubb 1-for-2, Ty Rose 1-for-2, Whit Gibson 1-for-3.
Cornersville: Aaron Fox 1-for-3, Hunter Talley 1-for-2, Chance Dyer 1-for-2, Ben Taylor 1-for-2, Graham Duke 1-for-2
WP: David Looney
LP: Nick Barron