Mohawk and Cougar Baseball Teams Eliminated

Thursday, May 14, 2015
Rector's Austin Clairday hurdles Tuckerman catcher Jordan Bright during fourth inning of Friday afternoon's regional tournament game. Clairday was ruled out on the play on a controversial call which cost the Cougars a crucial run in their 6-5 loss to the host Bulldogs.(TD photo/Trent Fletcher)

Both the RHS and PHS baseball teams fell in the first round of their respective regional tournaments, ending this spring's campaigns.

Mohawks at Harrison

The Piggott baseball squad's postseason run ended last Friday afternoon in the first round of the 3A Region 3 tournament at Harrison, as they dropped a 15-4 decision in six innings to the Cotter Warriors.

The Tribe had earned the right to take on the top-seeded Cotter squad, who entered the game at 15-3 overall, by advancing to the second round of the district tournament at Independence Park the previous week with a win over Manila. With the loss the Tribe ends its first season of play under head coach David Reynolds.

In a game which was delayed three hours due to rain, the Tribe drew first blood in the contest at Harrison, as Tyler Peters reached by way of a walk and was then driven in on a two-run home run to left center by Piggott's Bret Fuller. But, Cotter plated two runs of their own in the home half of the first, and the frame ended in a 2-2 tie.

The Warriors scored three more runs in the third, as they took a 5-2 advantage into the fourth. In the home half of the fourth inning Cotter sent 10 batters to the plate as they scored five unanswered runs by virtue of three hits and an error on the Tribe, extending the lead to 10-2.

But, after several quiet innings at the plate, the Mohawk bats came alive somewhat in the top of the sixth as they tacked on two more runs on three hits and a Warrior error.

Late in the game Cotter added to their tally, as the Tribe eventually fell in six innings by virtue of the run rule.

On the bright side for Reynolds, and the young Mohawks, they will only lose on senior to graduation this week as Jordan Blascoe will end his high school career. Otherwise, the core of starters will return for next year's campaign, and based on their late season improvements should be a much stronger contender in the 3A-3 conference.

Cougars at Tuckerman

Tuckerman's Hunter Tubbs drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh inning to help the Bulldogs squeeze past Rector, 6-5, Friday afternoon at the 2A Regional Tournament, ending the Cougars' dream of a state tournament berth.

The Bulldogs began their winning rally when Rector hurler Samuel Westbrook hit leadoff batter Evan Hubbard with a pitch. Hubbard swiped second base and advanced to third when Jamison Fortenberry reached on an error. The Cougars elected to load the bases, setting up a force play, but the strategy backfired when Westbrook walked Tubbs to force in the winning run.

Rector grabbed a 1-0 lead in the opening inning when Lawson Ford slammed an RBI double, scoring Garrett Buck, who had singled earlier in the frame. The Cougars increased their margin to 2-0, plating another run in the fourth. Blaine Murray reached on an infield single and raced to third when Austin Clairday belted a double into the left centerfield gap. Westbrook strolled to the plate and laced a hard single to left field, scoring Murray. Clairday was also waved home but was ruled out at the plate on a controversial call, costing Rector a crucial run.

Tuckerman took advantage of Cougar starting pitcher Nick Hardin's wildness in the fifth inning, scoring five times. A bases loaded walk forced in the first Bulldog run, and Tuckerman tied the game when Hardin, who hit five batters during the contest, nailed a Bulldog hitter, evening the score 2-2.

Tuckerman grabbed a 3-2 lead when Westbrook, in relief of Hardin, uncorked a wild pitch. An infield single by Tubbs produced another Bulldog run, and ignited a verbal exchange between Cougar coach Robert Dorman and first base umpire Brandon Thiesse. Dorman and most of the Cougar faithful thought first baseman Garrett Buck had tagged Tubbs before the Bulldog runner had reached base safely, but Thiesse ruled Buck had missed the tag, allowing the run to score. The argument continued until the home plate umpire ejected Dorman from the game. Tuckerman capped off the inning, scoring on another bases loaded walk.

Rector fought back, getting a single run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Samuel Simmons, scoring Hardin, who had reached on an error. The Cougars squared the game 5-5 with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh. Brian Hufty got things started for Rector with a leadoff double. Ford drilled his second two-bagger of the game, scoring Hufty, to pull the Cougars to within a run. Hardin followed with an infield single, putting runners on the corners. Danny Hager's groundout scored Ford with the tying run.

Tubbs picked up the win, working one inning of one-hit ball. Buddy Adams threw the first six innings for the Bulldogs, giving up 11 hits and five runs.

Westbrook suffered the loss, working two innings, surrendering one run on two hits while striking out four and walking three. Hardin pitched five plus innings, allowing five runs on just three hits. Hardin struck out six and walked three.

Ford finished the day with a pair of doubles and a single, along with two RBI and a run scored while Hager had three singles and an RBI to pace the 12-hit Cougar attack.

Tuckerman got a pair of hits from Adams.

"Our offense was tremendous in the game," coach Dorman said, noting that Ford especially had a great game at the plate.

"We threw a bunch of balls and it's hard to win when you don't throw strikes," the coach said.

"We'll be better in the future with this experience. None of our boys had ever been to a regional. We fought hard the entire game. I've never seen us as into a game as we were this one. I could not have been prouder of them."

The Cougars lose three seniors from the team -- Hardin, Murray and Matt McCluskey, as well as manager Landen Crancer. "We have a great core returning and have some talented freshmen as well as a good group of eighth graders coming up. The conference will be tough as always, but I think the experience we got this year will help fuel our success."

The Cougars finished the season 11-9 overall and registered an 8-4 conference mark, good for second place and the spot in the regional tournament.

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