Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

May 8, 2014

Treutlen’s walk-off blast ends Schley County’s state championship hopes

ELLAVILLE — The Schley County Wildcats advanced to the second round of the GHSA Class A Public State Playoffs after stealing home in the bottom of the seventh inning against Trion in the third game of their opening series. On Wednesday night, Schley County found themselves in another heart-stopper in the opening game of their Elite Eight match-up with Treutlen Vikings.

The visiting Vikings were not intimidated by the fact that they were squaring off against the number one seed in hostile territory. In the top of the opening inning, Treutlen sandwiched a single between two hit by pitches from Schley County starter Brett Usry to load up the bases. Cameron Braddy then earned a bases-loaded walk to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead, and Titus Benjamin followed with an RBI groundout to extend the lead to 2-0.

Tristan Cone doubled the lead to 4-0 with a two-RBI double, and after another walk Michael Leeder was called on for an early relief appearance. Leeder pitched well in a tough situation, but thanks to another two-RBI hit by Kyle Rosen, Treutlen grew their lead to 6-0 before the inning expired.

Matthew Powell retired the ‘Cats in order in the bottom of the first, and after three errors by Schley County to open the second inning, the bases were loaded again. The Vikings got back-to-back RBI singles from Cone and Magel Johnson to make the lead 8-0, and they added another run on a fielder’s choice before Rosen delivered a tough blow with a three-run homer to score the 12th Treutlen run of the game.

Although they were down by a huge margin, the ‘Cats refused to give up on their state title hopes. After singles by Ryan Ragsdale, Matt Corbin, and Logan Scofield, Knox Theus drew a walk to score the first Wildcat run of the game. Josh Hutchens then crushed a deep sacrifice fly ball to left field to score Corbin and make the score 12-2, and Leeder brought home two more runs with a single to left field.

Ragsdale also added an RBI single in the inning, and Corbin followed with a two-RBI triple down the third base line to cut the lead down to just 12-8.

Leeder then worked a scoreless top of the third on the mound, and helped his own cause with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning to make the score 12-9.

Leeder continued to shut down the Vikings in the top of the fifth and sixth innings, surrendering just one run on a two-out homer by Brad Cammack, and in the bottom of the sixth the Wildcats narrowed the margin to just one run thanks to a line drive home run by Ragsdale to score himself, Leeder and Clint Sellars.

Trailing by just one run, 13-12, Schley County committed a costly error in the top of the seventh to fall back into a 16-12 hole. Despite loading the bases and bringing their clean-up hitter to the plate in the bottom of the frame, Cammack was called on to end the game for the Vikings and he did just that. With Cammack slamming the door on the comeback, Treutlen claimed a 16-12 win in a thrilling game one.

Cammack was back on the mound to start game two for Treutlen, who took over as the home team. The ability to have the last at-bat paid big dividends for the Vikings in the night-cap, and with a walk-off home run they ended the Wildcats’ season with just one swing in the bottom of the seventh.

Usry led off the first with a single, and despite striking out three Schley County batters, Cammack did surrender an RBI single to Ragsdale to fall behind 1-0.

Treutlen responded with three runs in the bottom of the first inning, but Schley County pitcher Blake Howell would find his groove in the bottom of the second. Howell tossed two scoreless innings in the second and third, and in the top of the fourth the ‘Cats scored their second run on an RBI single by Chase Patrick to bring home pinch runner Reid Ragsdale.

The Vikings put their lead back at two with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning, but in the top of the sixth the resilient ‘Cats began to mount another comeback. Ragsdale led off the inning by reaching on an error, and Patrick crushed an RBI double to bring him home and cut the lead to 4-3. Patrick then tied the game up by stealing third base and scoring on a wild throw by Rosen.

The drama hit a game-high after a scoreless sixth inning with each team’s top of the order due up in the seventh inning of a tied game. The Wildcats had a near miss in their half of the frame by stranding Usry at third, and it appeared that the Vikings would miss their opportunity as well.

Rosen and Cammack reached base to open the bottom of the seventh, but Sellars was called on to take the mound and escape the jam. The freshman responded by striking out the Vikings number three hitter, and the clean-up hitter then smoked a line drive to left field that Hutchens laid out to catch and preserve the tie.

With two outs, however, the end of the line came for the Wildcats. Just when it looked like they were going to escape the sticky situation, Treutlen’s Titus Benjamin crushed a three-run walk-off homer over the center field fence. Benjamin’s bomb ended the game, and the Wildcats’ season, with a 7-4 Viking win.

Treutlen will now advance to the Final Four to take on Gordon Lee, who defeated Miller County 6-1 and 16-1 in the Elite Eight. The Wildcats season ends with a 22-7 record, and a Region 4-A Championship to their credit.

Schley County’s young squad will return a very strong core of underclassman in 2015, while they lose only six seniors to graduation. The Wildcats will be strong contenders in the state for the next several seasons, promising a bright future for Schley County baseball.

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