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Cotham pitches Bears to 9-AAA final, regional
May 11, 2007 12:00 am
HENDERSONVILLE — Mark Purvis said a couple of weeks ago three District 9-AAA teams – Smyrna, Beech and his Mt. Juliet Bears – were good enough to win the state. But at least one of them was destined to get stranded in the league tournament.
The Bears left host Beech on the roadside Tuesday night with a 4-0 blanking behind the five-hit pitching of Josh Cotham to win the Buccaneers' bracket of the district tournament and advance to tonight's one-game final at top-seed Smyrna. But regardless of the outcome of tonight's 6 p.m. game, Mt. Juliet is in the Region 5-AAA tournament for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
"It was the toughest bracket that we went through," Purvis said of the Beech half of the 9-AAA tournament. "Beech is a very good ballclub with a lot of good pitching. We wanted to win it tonight and not carry it to tomorrow."
It was Mt. Juliet's second win of the tournament over the Buccaneers, who needed to win last night to force the "if necessary" game tonight, which would have pushed the final at Smyrna to Thursday.
Cotham walked two and struck out nine as the junior right-hander improved to 4-3 and moved to 32-10.
And is so often the case at the high school level, the starting pitcher got a key hit as Cotham drove in a first-inning run.
Richie Hawkins, courtesy running for catcher Caleb Knox, scored on a second-inning wild pitch.
Mt. Juliet sealed it with two in the seventh as Taylor Hill singled and Cotham walked. Jeff Murphy dropped down a sacrifice bunt. Knox's shot ricocheted off the pitcher's glove to the third baseman, who threw the ball away, allowing both runners [Stephen Smith was courtesy running for Cotham] to score.
Beech advanced to the bracket final with a 7-3 win over Wilson Central earlier in the day, ending the Wildcats' season at 9-30.
Commanders turn back Westmoreland challenge, reach 8-A final
More often than not, Friendship Christian run rules its District 8-A rivals. Westmoreland was having none of it Tuesday in the league winner's bracket final at FCS.
The Eagles trailed by a run midway through the third inning before the Commanders and pitcher Stephen Pryor reasserted their dominance in an 11-5 conquest.
Friendship jumped to a 6-1 lead in the first inning before Westmoreland whittled away to close within 6-5 midway through the third.
"[Pryor] walked five and we made a couple of errors and then we made some other...throws not made to the proper base and some plays in the outfield where we didn't get the right cutoffs, gave the an inside-the-park when it should have been a single – double, tops," Friendship coach John McNeal said after his Commanders climbed to 23-12 for the season going into today's 4 p.m. championship round. "We just made some plays that hurt us. He worked behind – walking five people wasn't as bad as he worked behind almost every hitter. It doesn't matter how well you throw, when you're working from behind, hitters know that."
Wade Mitchell homered in the bottom of the third for a 7-5 lead.
Westmoreland came back in the top of the fifth to load the bases with no one out. Pryor induced a 1-2-3 double-play grounder and one of his 10 strikeouts to escape unharmed.
"That was a big inning," McNeal said. "It was one of those where we didn't play our best – take nothing away from them, they did a good job today – and we were still able to get the win."
Friendship put the game away with four in the bottom of the fifth to seal the deal.
Pryor allowed six hits and only one earned run through six innings before Brent Boyd pitched a one-hit seventh.
Friendship finished with nine hits, including two each by Mitchell and Jon Miller. Pryor drove in two runs, as did G.L. Waynick, who homered.
Trousdale County ousted Gordonsville 8-3 earlier Tuesday to advance to today's 2 p.m. loser's final against Westmoreland with the winner catching the Commanders at 4 and taking the second Region 4-A berth. The "if necessary" game would be at 4 p.m. Thursday.