Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

February 29, 2012

Schley County baseball opens season at Lee County Invitational Tournament

AMERICUS —  The Schley County Wildcats traveled to Lee County to open their season at the Lee County Invitational Thursday through Saturday. The Wildcats faced some extremely tough competition in preparation for their 2012 region schedule. The Wildcats of Schley beat AAA Westover on Thursday before dropping two decisions to AAAA Lee County and AAAAA Centennial High School to round out the tournament.

On Thursday the Wildcats battled the Westover Patriots in a hard fought game to open the tournament. The ‘Cats took an early lead in the top of the first inning when Justin Barnes forced a leadoff walk to start the inning. Following a steal by Barnes, Jamie Jacobson moved the runner to third with a ground ball to the right side in an excellent display of situational hitting. Colton Satterfield would give the ‘Cats a 1-0 lead with a single to left field to bring Barnes home.

Neither team would score until the top of the fourth when the ‘Cats would add an insurance run behind the speed of Jacobson. Following a lead off walk, Jacobson would steal second and third on consecutive pitches. With two outs, Jacobson completed one of the rarest feats in baseball by stealing home on a straight steal to widen the Wildcat’s lead to 2-0. “Jamie had a great game,” said coach Chuck Cheek. “Not many guys can say they stole all three bases in one inning. We thought he could make it, but it’s always a risk. I’m glad he got the job done,” Cheek added.

The ‘Cats would hold a 2-0 lead until the bottom of the seventh inning. Starting pitcher Clint Collins would give up the only run to Westover in the bottom of the last inning, but Barnes would come in and slam the door on a potential comeback.

With runners on second and third, Patriot batter Garrett Yinsky would line out to first baseman Colton Satterfield who made a nice play to end the game.

Collins’ earned the win after a very strong performance on the mound for the Wildcats. He struck out ten Patriot batters while only surrendering two hits and one walk. “Great job by Clint on the mound. He really pounded the strike zone and kept his pitch count down. He was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes and keep their guys off balance,” said coach Cheek.

In the second game of the tournament the Wildcats faced off against a tough AAAAA Centennial High School team out of Atlanta.

Jett Coptsias made his season debut on the mound for the Wildcats against the Knights of Centennial. Coptsias pitched well for the “cats, but a lack of defensive support would put Centennial up early and they would not look back of their way to a 6-0 win. Had Schley not made an defensive errors in the first inning, they more than likely would have escaped with no runs being scored by the Knights. However, the Knights scored three runs in the first and 2 more in the third before Brandon Thomaston was called on to slow down the Knight’s attack. Thomaston only allowed one run on two hits for the rest of the game.

 “I was very pleased with how Jett and Brandon pitched tonight,” said coach Cheek.

Jacobson provided the lone hit for the ‘Cats in the game as he broke up Dustin Beggs’ no-hit bid in the top of the sixth inning. Schley also had several would-be hits that were tracked down by Centennial’s excellent group of outfielders. Coach Cheek described Centennial’s outfielders by saying, “They had three or four diving catches in the outfield and another ball in the gap that their right fielder, Chase Meyer, ran down that would have easily scored two for us. I have to give them credit, their outfielders could really go get it.”

Cheek said, “Our defense let us down early tonight. We should have been out of the first inning with no runs, but we botched two double plays. We seemed to settle down defensively but their guy on the mound did a good job keeping us off balance at the plate.”

“We took better swings this game, just didn’t have the hits to show for it,” he added.

The tournament finale pitted Schley against a perennial powerhouse in class AAAA, Lee County High School. It looked as though starting pitcher Justin Barnes would escaped the first inning untouched, but with two outs and noone, Lee County went to work. They used four hits and a walk to take a 3-0 lead in the first innings. A University of Georgia signee, Daniel Nichols, hit a solo home run to power the Trojans.

Dylan Yarbrough made his varsity debut for the Wildcats in the bottom of the second inning. After a giving up 3 runs on two hits, a walk, and an error, Yarbrough settled down and pitched well into the fifth inning when he was replaced be reliever Chas Wertz.

The Wildcats made a comeback in the fifth inning as they used a Trojan error and three hits to push four runs across the plate in their half of the inning. Wurtz was hit by a pitch in the top half of the sixth, however, and had to leave the game. Lee then scored seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning powered by another homer from Nichols, this time by the form of a grand slam.

Coach Cheek was proud of his teams effort, saying, “I was proud of our guys and the way we came back against some really good pitching. Our guys got a lot better at the plate over the three games. I think that’s going to pay off for us when we face the top pitchers in our region.”

Look for big things from Schley this year as they appear poised to make another run at the region championship and attempt to go deep into the playoffs.

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