Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Coosa Christian baseball team’s run in the Class 1A state playoffs came to an abrupt halt on Thursday, May 4. The Conquerors struggled on the mound, at the plate and on the field as Hackleburg posted a 10-2, 13-0 sweep.
Coosa finished the season with a 25-13 record, which is believed to be the most wins in school history. It was also the first time the program qualified for the state quarterfinals.
“I tip my hat to [Hackleburg], because they’re a really good team, but basically everything went their way and nothing went our way,” said Coosa Christian head coach DeWayne Boyd. “We just didn’t catch any breaks, and we just didn’t play our brand of baseball like we’d been doing all year. But we’ll learn from it and grow from it and come back with a vengeance next year.”
Game 1 ended after five innings on the 10-run mercy rule. Hackleburg starter Blaine Vickery limited the Coosa offense to four hits and one walk while striking out seven. He retired the side in order in the second and fourth innings. Only one of Coosa’s five baserunners made it past second.
John David Justus went 2-for-2, while Blaine West (pictured above at right) and Keith Johnson both had a hit. Bryan Johnson had two steals.
In Game 2, Brody Nelson’s score off Justus’ sacrifice fly gave the Conquerors a 1-0 lead through the first two innings. But the Panthers took the lead for good with three runs in the third and four in the fourth.
West scored on a steal of home in the bottom of the fourth to pull Coosa within 7-2, but Hackleburg put across three more runs in the top of the seventh to secure the sweep.
In five and one-third innings, winning pitcher Chandler Benford allowed two hits and one run with two strikeouts. He did not issue a walk.
Justus went 2-for-2, Keith Johnson went 2-for-3 and Nelson and West each had a hit and a run scored.
Boyd considers Thomas Skaggs, the team’s line senior, as a “culture-changer” since he transferred to Coosa Christian prior to his sophomore year. Skaggs recently signed to play at Gadsden State.
“Thomas really stepped up and developed as a player and as a leader over the past few years. He’s put everything he had into this program and into this school. It’s stinks for him that he won’t be around to benefits from what’s coming, but he definitely was a big part in getting us to this point.”