Cougars Prevail at AutoZone Park

Thursday, April 28, 2016
Sam Westbrook on the mound at AutoZone Park.(courtesy photo)

The Rector Cougars played a game of a lifetime as they stepped onto the minor league field at the AutoZone Park in Memphis Sunday. The Cougars played against Tunica Academy and won 12-7.

Coach Robert Dorman said he got the idea after watching his cousin from Campbell play there over the years, so he called the Redbirds and made an agreement. If 500 tickets were sold, then the Cougars could play.

"We sold 588 tickets," Dorman said. "Thank you to the entire community for showing your support and giving the boys this opportunity to play on one of the finest minor league fields in the country. Also, we had more fans in the stadium than Tunica did, which is phenomenal since it's such a longer drive for us."

Rector's Brian Hufty eases into second base for the Cougars during the win over Tunica Academy.(courtesy photo)

Dorman said it was wonderful to be able to honor his seniors with their senior gifts that day and he made sure each player got to bat, play in the field and see their face on the big screen.

"Game wise we had a few problems defensively, but I blame that on nerves and having never played on such a finely groomed field," Dorman said. "This was the most people we've ever played in front of, about 500 or 600."

Sam Westrook started on the mound, pitching three innings. He allowed three hits, no earned runs, struck out six and walked three.

Danny Hager came in as relief throwing two innings. He gave up two hits, two earned runs and struck out two.

Brian Hufty pitched the last inning and struck out two.

Offensively, Westbrook was 2 for 3 with three runs. Hufty was 1 for 2. Garrett Buck was 1 for 1 with 4 RBIs. Hager, Kade Scott and Austin Clairday each hit one apiece.

The Cougars made a full day out of the occasion, taking off early and stopping to eat at Colton's Steakhouse in Marion, followed by watching the Redbirds and playing the biggest game of their high school careers. Each senior got three at bats and each player got one.

"It was a long day, but I wouldn't trade it for anything," Dorman said. "We are going to try to do this every other year from here on."

Before all the excitement of playing on a minor league field the Cougars played two regular season games.

They traveled to Paragould Friday, April 22, where they took on 5A Paragould High School and won 4-3.

Hunter McNeely was on the mound all seven innings. He gave up six hits, two earned runs, struck out four and walked two. "He threw one of the best games all year with 87 pitches," Dorman said.

Offensively, there were seven hits as a team. "The difference between this game and others is that even though we didn't have that as many hits, we hit the big ones that counted and had base runners," Dorman said.

They took on Riverside as guests Thursday, April 21, for a chance at the third seed in district and lost 9-1 to their host.

"Riverside is extremely tough to beat and I don't think we played terrible," Dorman said. "You have to play every bit of your best to beat Riverside."

Hufty started on the mound and he struggled with command. He pitched three innings, gave up eight hits, five earned runs and walked six.

Hager came in as relief pitching four innings. He gave up five hits and two earned runs.

Offensively, Buck was 2 for 4, Ford was 2 for 3 and Hufty, Scott and Case Watson got a hit apiece.

"Offensively I was very impressed with Case Watson," Dorman said.

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