Cougars moving on
South Montgomery County Academy had two straight tries to capture its first victory over Crenshaw Christian Academy this season.
It didn't happen.
The Cougars used a combination of hitting, aggressive base running and stellar defense to swamp SMCA in Tuesday's sub-regional doubleheader. The Cougars beat the Rebels 8-2 in the first game and 12-3 in the second, sending CCA where none of school's baseball teams have gone before - the Class A Final Four State Tournament.
Youthful but talented, head coach Roland Jones said his team should have 'as good a chance as anybody' of walking away with a state title when tournament action begins next Thursday at 11 a.m.
"It could go either way when you get over to Selma," said Jones. "You're playing in that big park and in front of a big crowd and everybody's nervous. Anything can happen."
Bryan Brasington picked up his 12th win of the season in the opening game, pitching the complete seven-inning contest. He gave up six hits and struck out four.
"I've got a pretty good rotation," said Jones. "I've got three guys who can throw pretty good but our defense sets up better when Bryan throws. You can expect good things from him in the future."
The game was tied 1-1 in the fourth inning, when a Mike McDonald double jumpstarted CCA's hitting.
In the second contest, the Cougars raced out to a 5-1 advantage and pitcher Cory Walden allowed just three hits in the first five innings to secure the 12-3 victory. Andrew Powell closed on the mound for CCA, striking out four of the last eight SMCA batters he faced.
Walden had three hits. Powell added two singles and a double. Sloan Carter had two hits, while Brock Free hit a triple and Andrew Armour had a basehit. McDonald scored on an inside-the-park homerun.
In Selma, Jones said the key would be producing big hits at the top of the order like the ones the Cougars had against SMCA.
"Our hitting has come a long way," said Jones. "It still isn't where it needs to be, but they've been working hard. Cory was batting fifth or sixth but he's moved his way up to the leadoff spot. He takes a lot of pitches and the more pitches you take will wear on a pitcher, especially around the fourth or fifth inning. That's usually when we've been able to get on people."
Brasington follows Walden in the batting order. Jones said his pitcher has been in a 'slump' recently.
He doesn't expect that to hold up, though.
"Bryan's got as good a swing as any of them," said Jones.
Batting third is McDonald, the Cougars' leading hitter.
"He's been doing a great job and he's a great leader out on the field," said Jones. "Andrew (Powell) bats fourth and he's hit the ball hard these last two or three games. Hitting is just a matter of having the right mindset. Anyone of them can hit if their mind's into it."
Jones' philosophy is to put his speedier runners on base in position to score.
And then have fun.
"You have to take chances," Jones said, who likes to play aggressive on the basepaths. "Kids 14 or 15 year olds, they'll throw the ball around. Sometimes it helps you. Sometimes it hurts you. It's worked to our advantage this year. That's just the way I've always liked to play baseball. It's a boring game because it's so long. Let's make it exciting."