Bulldogs blank Mustangs
Senior pitcher David Looney was at his best when Cornersville needed him the most, as the Bulldog staff ace tossed his fifth shutout of the season to lead CHS to a 5-0 home victory over the Loretto Mustangs (23-12) in the first round of the Region 6-A tournament on Monday night.
Facing the prospect of elimination from the playoffs, the Bulldogs (18-9) tallied a run in the bottom of the third to grab a 1-0 lead before crossing home plate four more times in the fifth inning to claim their fifth straight win.
"I had a great feeling about the game because it felt like everybody came to play tonight. My defense was making plays behind me and that makes my job so easy," said Looney. "I think we've peaked at the right time. The bats are finally coming around and we're becoming a family."
Thanks to Monday's triumph, Cornersville advanced to the Region tournament championship game where they will take on Summertown at home on Wednesday and also earned a spot in the Sectional round of the playoffs.
Loretto came into Monday's contest averaging 6.7 runs per game, but Looney corralled the Mustangs' offense and tossed a three-hitter to run his record to 9-0 on the year while piling up 11 strikeouts and issuing no walks.
"My fastball outside was the key. I was throwing my fastball on the outside corner for strikes and coming back inside with junk in on their hands," said Looney.
Help from Loretto
The Bulldogs mustered only five hits against two Loretto hurlers, but were aided by five walks and three hit batsman. Looney delivered the biggest blow of the game for Cornersville by belting a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning. Catcher Aaron Fox also went 2-for-2 with a RBI, while Tate Lowery and Graham Duke each had one hit.
Loretto starting pitcher Nick Green suffered the loss after allowing five runs over four and two-third innings. Ryan Weathers, Myles Burks, and Mason Purser notched one hit apiece for the Mustangs.
The Bulldogs stranded a man in scoring position in each of the first two innings, but scratched out a run in the bottom of the third to take a 1-0 lead. Following a leadoff walk by Lowery, Looney hit into a fielder's choice to replace Lowery on the base paths. Courtesy runner Justin Black then advanced to second on a J.D. Crabtree groundout before Fox laced a two-out RBI single into centerfield.
Loretto had a chance to tie the game in the top of the fourth when Jake Sharpton reached second base on an error to start the inning. Looney, however, picked Sharpton off second a few moments later before retiring the next two Mustang batters on a fly out and a strikeout to extinguish the threat.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Bulldogs opened up some breathing room by pushing across four runs in the frame to forge a 5-0 advantage. Talley drew a walk to lead off the inning before stealing second. After Lowery legged out a bunt single, Looney cranked a three-run shot over the left field fence to stretch Cornersville's lead to 4-0. The Bulldogs then loaded the bases with two outs on a Fox single, a hit batsman, and a walk by Curt Taylor, before courtesy runner Blake Calahan came home on a RBI walk by Ben Taylor.
Purser led off the top of the sixth with a single to spoil Looney's no-hit bid, but Looney doubled Purser off first after making a diving catch of a Jacob Hallmark bunt prior to striking out Bailey Flatt to end the inning.
Looney then worked around a pair of one-out singles by Weathers and Burks by fanning the final two Mustang batters to complete the shutout.