Bulldogs’ season ends in Region 5-A semifinal
The District 8-A Tournament runner-up Cornersville Bulldogs (24-6-1) made the trip to the Music City to take on District 7-A Tournament champion Grace Christian School-Franklin at Trevecca-Nazarene University’s Jackson Field on Monday night.
The Bulldogs played hard, but the solid pitching by GCA’s Austin Kasick and a fit of wildness by Bulldog pitcher Graham Duke was the difference as GCA came away with a 6-2 victory that ended the Bulldogs’ season.
On a cool and windy evening the first pitch was delivered for a strike to Bulldog leadoff hitter Cameron Whitaker.
The Cornersville centerfielder grounded to shortstop for the first out as did the next two batters, Tyler Wolaver and Caleb Crowell.
The bottom of the first saw the first hit of the game when after one out, Grant Soloman grounded a single through the hole between short and third for a hit.
Soloman was stranded at first as two fly balls to left fielder Eli Woodard were caught to end frame.
In the top of the second, Duke led off with a shot down the line in left for a double.
After a strike out, Duke advanced to third on a sacrifice fly by Tilden Jackson, but Kasick bore down for another strikeout to end the inning.
Cash Kitch, leading off for the Lions in the bottom of the second inning, coaxed a walk from Duke, but was thrown out trying to steal second by Bulldog catcher Crowell.
Duke plunked Luke Gill with a pitch, but got the next batter on a grounder to short for an easy 6-4 put out to end the stanza.
The Bulldogs went quietly in the top of the third, but in the bottom half, Duke ran into trouble.
Duke retired the first two batters before back-to-back singles and a double by Baylor Jones plated two runs.
Another base on balls put two runners on, but Duke got a strikeout to end the third and GCA led 2-0.
The Bulldogs struck back in the top of the fourth when Crowell laced a ball to right field and Duke pounded an RBI double to left field, but the Bulldogs could not bring Duke around and the score remained 2-1.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Lions put a base runner on via a walk after two outs, but Duke got out of the inning with a ground ball to shortstop.
The top of the fifth saw the Bulldogs threatened, but they could not push across a run with two-on and two-out as Blake Pickett walked and advance to second on a wild pitch to set up the scoring opportunity.
Cameron Whitaker grounded to short, but got on when the throw to first pulled the Lion’ first baseman off the bag, putting runners on first and third.
Kasick delivered a huge strikeout to strand both runners and in the bottom of the fifth, the Lions extended the lead.
Duke’s control faltered and four straight walks produced a run and an error and a base hit by Carson Maloney produced another.
“I had it going for most of the game and then I lost it. I really don’t know what happened,” Duke said.
Brock Arender brought two more home on a single to right and Raymond Cooksey replaced Duke on the mound.
Maloney was caught trying to steal home and Cooksey got a grounder to short for the third out, but the damage had been done as GCA increased its lead to 6-1.
The top of the sixth saw the Bulldogs fight back with a triple to deep center field by Crowell.
After a strikeout, Cooksey brought him around to score with a base hit to make it 6-2.
Tilden Jackson dumped one into right field, but the runners were stranded as Kasick picked up two more strikeouts.
Cooksey retired GCA 1-2-3 in the home half of the inning and the Bulldogs had one more chance in the top of the seventh.
After two outs, Tyler Wolaver reached on an error by the Lions third baseman and Crowell did likewise with an error on the second baseman.
With two men on Duke was the batter, but his hard-hit ball was caught by GCA left fielder Ty Davidson for the third out.
The season cane to an end for the Bulldogs as well as the careers of two of the best athletes the school has ever had in Cameron Whitaker and Eli Woodard.
Together these two young men put Cornersville High School on the map.
Winners they are.
After the game coach Ben Putnam stated, “We played pretty well and they played pretty good, but they got a few more breaks, that’s all.”
Cornersville 000 101 0-2 6 0
Grace Christian School 002 040 X-6 6 4
Cornersville: Graham Duke 2-for-4, Caleb Crowell 2-for 4, Raymond Cooksey 1-for-3, Tilden Jackson 1-for-3.
BB: Blake Pickett.
RS: Crowell 2.
2B: Duke 2, Crowell.
RBI: Cooksey, Duke.
ROE: Cameron Whitaker, Crowell, Tyler Wolaver
LP: Graham Duke (4.1IP, 6H, 6R, 6ER, 2K, 7BB).
Relief: Raymond Cooksey (1.2IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB).
Grace Christian Academy: Grant Soloman 2-for-4, Carson Ford 1-for-3, Baylor Jones 1-for-2, Carson Maloney 1-for-1, Brock Arender 1-for-3.
RBI: Arender 2, Jones 2, Austin Kasick, Maloney.
BB: Kitch Cash 3, Ford, Jones, Kasick, Ty Davidson.
RS: Ford 2, Soloman, Jones, Cash, Kasick.
RBI: Arender 2, Jones 2, Kasick, Maloney.
FC: Arender, Blake Barton.
HBP: Luke Gill.
CS: Cash, Maloney.
Team LOB: 6
E: Jones 3, Solomon.
WP: Kasick (7IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 10K, 1BB).