Bulldogs beat old foe

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Cornersville's Graham Duke came up with a huge win for the Bulldogs, striking out 13 Richland batters in a 7-4 win over the Raiders in the District 11-A Tournament at Columbia Academy. Tribune photo by Mike Inglsbee

The old sports adage about being tough to beat a team three times in one season proved true once again as the Cornersville Bulldogs took down the Richland Raiders in convincing fashion 7-4 after losing to its longtime rival 7-6 and 6-2 earlier in the 2016 schedule.

"We were better in all three phases of the game than we were in the regular season," Cornersville coach Ben Putnam said. "We pitched better, we fielded better, and we hit better. We weren't very good at any of it the previous two meetings against (Richland) and today we were."

The Bulldogs got a solid pitching performance from freshman Graham Duke who pitched 6 2/3 innings of five-hit ball before Carson Walker came in for the final out to garner the save.

"I just had better stuff against (Richland) this time," Duke, who struck out 13 Raider batters said. "I was hitting my spots and making all my pitches work pretty good. We played better defense and hit the ball better this time around against them."

The Bulldogs also got production from an unlikely source as number nine hitter Cody Caneer chipped in two hits, both doubles for two RBI that extended the Bulldog lead each time.

"That was big, but I don't have like a 'worst' guy in the nine hole," Putnam explained. "I like (Caneer) as a second lead off, a guy that can do a lot of different things. Cody is a senior that's really came through for us this year and came through big in some big spots."

Ben Taylor led Cornersville with three runs batted in and freshman Cam Whitaker reached base all four times the left fielder came up to bat.

Skylar Tarpley controlled the Bulldog bats until the fifth inning when the Cornersville floodgates opened with two outs and Caleb Crowell trotting to first after a walk.

The last batter in the line-up, Caneer, stepped up to the plate and drilled a shot deep into left field that fell in between two Raider fielders to score the first Bulldog run of the game, tying the contest up 1-1.

After Whitaker took first base on a walk, Taylor hit a ball all the way to the left field fence to score three Bulldog runners and what was a once one run deficit, ballooned into a three-run lead at 4-1.

"I was just trying to make contact and put the ball in play," Taylor said. "We just came out ready to play and were alive today. We made plays in the field and our pitcher threw great."

The hot Bulldog bats continued into the next inning when J.D. Crabtree and Michael Allen started the inning with singles before Colby Downs brought home Crabtree with an RBI baser knock to right field.

After a double play ball by Crowell to shortstop, Caneer walked up to the plate and hit a shot deep into left center for his second double of the game, stretching the lead to 6-1.

"Knowing that (nine hole) is a big spot to have to hit, I feel that going out there and doing my job like I did was a big part of this game," Caneer said. "Being the number nine hitter is a difficult spot to be in because you see some crazy pitches."

Whitaker kept the inning alive with a single down the third base line before Duke helped his cause with a single to left to bring home the last Bulldog run of the game.

The Raiders rallied in the seventh with three straight hits that brought in a run each time, but Walker came on in relief and after walking to first batter to put the tying run on base, Walker got the last batter of the game to pop up to right to end the game and keep Cornersville in the winners bracket.

Cornersville 000 043 0-7 6 2

Richland 000 100 3-4 5 3

Cornersville: Cody Caneer 2-for-3, Cameron Whitaker 1-for-1, Ben Taylor 1-for-4, JD Crabtree 1-for-4, Colby Downs 1-for-4

RS: Caneer 2, Whitaker, Blake Pickett, Crabtree, Michael Allen, Caleb Crowell

2B: Caneer 2, Taylor

RBI: Taylor 3, Caneer 2, Downs

SAC: Crowell

HBP: Graham Duke

SB: Crabtree

Richland: Briggs 2-for-2, Gibson 2-for-4, Rose 1-for-4

RS: Tarpley, Briggs, Watson

RBI: Rose, Briggs, Gibson

FC: Tarpley

HBP: Briggs, Watson

SB: Briggs 3, Watson

WP: Graham Duke (6.2IP, 5H, 4R, 3ER, 13K, 5BB)

Save: Carson Walker (0.1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 1BB)

LP: Tarpley