Mt. Ida Ends Cougars' Run in State Tourney
The Rector Cougars faced the 16-1 Lions from Mt. Ida in the first round of the state 2A baseball tournament at Parker's Chapel Thursday afternoon, and despite hanging with their opponents early dropped a 10-3 decision. The Cougars had earned the trip to the southern most reaches of the state after winning the 2A-2 district tournament, and advancing out of last week's regional at Marked Tree.
The Cougars were scoreless in the top of the first, and Danny Hager got the start on the mound in the home half of the inning. He gave up a run in the top of the first, as the Lions enjoyed an early 1-0 advantage.
But, in the top of the second the senior-laden Rector squad responded, scoring a run to tie the game at 1-1. But, once again the potent Mt. Ida lineup responded with a two run home run in the home half of the inning to make it 3-1.
In the top of the third Sam Westbrook drew a lead-off walk and advanced on a hot shot down the third base line. Garrett Buck then hit a shot to centerfield, scoring one and leaving runners at second and third for Lawson Ford. He popped out, and was followed by an RBI single from Kade Scott. He advanced to second on the throw-in, and the Cougars tied the game at 3-3. Buck was doubled-off on a shot back to the third baseman, and the Rector squad left two on.
But, once again Mt. Ida answered in the home half of the inning with a run, as they re-took the lead 4-3.
In the top of the fourth the Cougars got a base hit, and a two out walk from Brian Hufty, but the threat ended with a pop-out to the first baseman.
From that point on it was all Lions, as the Cougars were unable to mount a rally and fell by a final of 10-3 as Mt. Ida scored six unanswered runs down the stretch.
Cougar Coach Robert Dorman noted the loss was a tough one, but added he was well pleased with the effort put forth by his team. "My kids always give such great effort, we just let it get away from us there early and that happens sometimes," he said of the loss. "It's tough, it's really tough, but my young men never quit and I couldn't be more proud of them."
Of the 17-2 Lions, he noted they knew they were going to have a game on their hands. "We knew they were gonna be tough, they came in as the one seed from that region and we knew they were going to be tough, but we knew we could hang with them," he surmised. "We just let it get away from us."
With the loss the Cougars end this year's campaign at 18-10 as the 2A-3 district tournament champions, as well as regional and state tournament qualifiers.
For Dorman, the loss of his seniors is going to be the biggest obstacle to overcome in the days to come.
"I've got eight seniors, and I'm going to miss them terribly," he offered following the game. "I just told them that I wished they were all just freshmen and I could have them for another four years. But, talent-wise, and character-wise they sure are going to be missed."
The following day the Lions were eliminated from the bracket by Murfreesboro 13-3, and they in turn were beaten by Junction City on Saturday in the semi-finals. In the lower half of the bracket it was Woodlawn over McCrory in the semi, and they'll meet Junction City at 10 a.m. Saturday in Fayetteville for the 2A title.