Cooksey tosses gem, Bulldogs capture district title
After a 5-1 win over Eagleville at home on Monday, the Cornersville Bulldogs took to the road on Tuesday with the opportunity to do something they have never done before if they beat the Eagles on their home turf on Tuesday.
Raymond Cooksey took the ball for the Bulldogs for the big game and the senior came up with a career outing on the hill, going the distance in a 5-4 win that gave Cornersville its first-ever regular season District 8-A title.
“I’m pretty sure we have never won a regular season district title,” Cornersville coach Ben Putnam said. “We’re excited, we get to host the tournament for the first time at our place, but if we don’t take care of business next week, you don’t look back and are fired up about this.”
“The important ones are still coming, so we gotta keep this thing rolling.”
Cooksey gave up four runs (three earned) on nine hits while striking out eight and walking one Eagleville batter.
Cooksey was the epitome of a bulldog as he struck out the last batter with at least one runner on base in every inning but the seventh, including a huge three strikeouts in a row with no outs in the first inning with Eagleville runners on first and second.
“I had my defense behind me the whole game, I was hitting on my spots, my pitches were working well, so it all fell in place,” Cooksey said. “I just wanted to come in and hit my spots, keep the ball low and let my defense work.”
The Bulldogs had 11 hits in the game with Caleb Crowell leading the way with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate, including a pair of doubles off Eagleville ace Will Graves.
“I knew my approach right there, they were struggling what to throw to me, so I saw a lot of off speed pitches at first,” Crowell said. “I went down early in the count, but I knew I was going to battle back in the count and get my pitch and absolutely drive it.”
Graham Duke also went 3-4 with a run scored and squeeze bunt RBI.
Cameron Whitaker (RS, RBI) and Tilden Jackson (RS, RBI) had two hits in the game while Cooksey (RS, 2RBI, 2B) and Eli Woodard (BB, SB) had one base knock apiece.
The Bulldogs sent an early message that they were ready to play as Whitaker led off the ballgame with a base hit.
After a Bulldog strikeout, Crowell singled to left field to put Bulldog runners on the corners before Duke executed a perfect squeeze bunt that sent Whitaker to the plate standing up.
Wells singled to lead off the home half of the inning and Caleb Holdcraft drew the only walk issued in the game by Cooksey, but it was to no avail as the Cornersville righty whiffed the next three Eagles in order to squash the scoring threat.
There was no scoring in the second inning, but the Bulldogs added to their lead in the top of the third on a two-run double by Cooksey and a run scoring single by Jackson to make it 4-0.
The Eagles came back to cut the Cornersville lead in half in the bottom of the frame as Holdcraft came up with an RBI double and Blake Brewer added a squeeze bunt RBI.
Both pitchers tossed a scoreless fourth inning and the Bulldogs left Crowell stranded on second base in the top of the fifth.
Holdcraft doubled to lead off the bottom of the inning and went to second on a sacrifice fly before scoring on a fielder’s choice RBI by Brewer to make it a 4-3 ballgame.
The Bulldogs came up with a huge insurance run in the top of the sixth as Jackson beat out an infield single to start the rally and Connor McVey walked one out later.
Blake Pickett reached on an error to load the sacks before Whitaker stroked an RBI single to center field, making it 5-3.
Eagleville was not ready to quit as Bennett Scheffler led off the bottom of the sixth with a base hit and went to second on a wild pitch.
Blake Joyner followed with a single to right field to put runners on first and third and Scheffler scored on a 4-6 fielder’s choice, making it a one-run contest.
Crowell came up huge on defense when he gunned down Joyner, trying to steal second base and Cooksey struck out the next Eagleville batter looking at a curve ball to end the inning.
“We got a few runs early, then scratched a few more late,” Putnam said. “They did a little damage, but never that one big inning that could have put us away.”
Cornersville had two on and two out in the top of the seventh but failed to score.
The Eagles had their 1-2-3 hitters coming up in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Cooksey was up to the task as he set them down in order to end the game and secure the district title and home field advantage in the upcoming District 8-A Tournament.
“Cooksey thrives in that moment, he has done it all season, he is our go-to guy in those innings and he is always going to come in and give it his best pitches,” Crowell said. “He stayed in it the whole game, it never fazed him and he knew how to pitch at that moment.”
Cornersville 103 001 0-5 12 1
Eagleville 002 011 0-4 9 3
Cornersville: Caleb Crowell 3-for-4, Graham Duke 3-for-4, Tilden Jackson 2-for-4, Cameron Whitaker 2-for-4, Raymond Cooksey 1-for-4, Eli Woodard 1-for-3.
BB: Woodard, Connor McVey.
RS: Whitaker, Duke, Jackson, Luke Terry, Henlee Mitchell.
2B: Crowell 2, Cooksey.
RBI: Cooksey 2, Whitaker, Duke, Jackson.
ROE: Blake Pickett.
E: Tyler Wolaver.
WP: Raymond Cooksey (7IP, 9H, 4R, 3ER, 8K, 1BB).
Eagleville: Ryan Wells 2-for-4, Caleb Holdcraft 2-for-3, Bennett Scheffler 2-for-3, Blake Joyner 1-for-3, Ethan Cobb 1-for-3, Blake Brewer 1-for-3.
RS: Holdcraft 2, Wells, Scheffler.
2B: Holdcraft 2.
RBI: Brewer 2, Cobb, Holdcraft.
Team LOB: 5
E: Wells, Scheffler, Joyner.
LP: Will Graves (5.1IP, 9H, 5R, 3ER, 6K, 2BB).
Relief: Toby Manus (1.2IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 2K, 0BB).
District 8-A Standings
Cornersville (19-3, 9-1)
Eagleville (17-9, 8-2)
Cascade (9-10, 5-5)
Moore County (10-12, 5-5)
Fayetteville (9-10, 3-7)
Huntland (6-13-1, 0-10)