Wildcats’ streak continues as team jumps to 16-2, remains undefeated in 4-A
Published 8:15 am Sunday, March 27, 2016
From STAFF REPORTS
The Schley County Wildcats baseball team has been hard at work over the past week continuing to plow their way through competitors, determined to earn themselves back-to-back state championship appearances.
The defending state champions kicked off the action on March 15 with a 5-1 victory over region 4-A foes, the Brookstone Cougars in Ellaville. The ‘Cats traveled to Macon two days later to deal a 9-1 blow to the First Presbyterian Day School (FPD) Vikings.
With the wind at their backs, the Wildcats hit the diamond again on March 18, earning another significant region win (8-2) over Taylor County, dealing the Vikings their second defeat of the season. The Wildcats opened play this week, traveling to Columbus to continue their impressive hot streak with a 16-0 shutout of their hosts, St. Anne-Pacelli. The next afternoon, Schley’s boys hit the road for Hawkinsville to further solidify their reputation as “the team to beat” with a 10-0 win over the Red Devils.
Most recently, the Wildcats went on to defeat Miller County 5-0 0m March 24.
With this series of wins under their belts, the Wildcats currently enjoy a 16-2 overall record and remain undefeated in region 4-A competition after seven contests.
Josh Hutchens and Brett Usry led the ‘Cats in their 5-1 victory over Brookstone on March 15 at Wildcat Park.
Hutchens went 2-3 at the plate, stole two bases, and scored a pair of runs to ignite the Wildcats’ offense in the region match-up. Usry was a dominant force on the mound, allowing only three hits, three walks, and one run while striking out 12 batters in his five innings of work.
Blake Howell was sharp in his two innings of relief. Howell struck out four batters while giving up one lonely hit.
After the Cougars opened the scoring with one run in the top of the first frame, Usry drove in Hutchens in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. The ‘Cats took the lead in the third when Hutchens again scored, this time on an Usry double to left field. The ‘Cats tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning on a a wild pitch, an error, and a Reid Ragsdale RBI single.
Hutchens, Usry, and Howell each connected on two hits in the contest. Chase Patrick, Michael Leeder, and Ragsdale also tallied hits in the game.
On the win, Wildcat head coach, Chuck Cheek, stated, “Brookstone is always a big game for us. [Brookstone pitcher], Drew Webb, was really strong on the mound for them and it was a struggle to score early. Brett [Usry] gave us another great performance. After the first inning, he really dominated. Josh [Hutchens] has the kind of speed that can take over a game. When he’s on base our offense clicks a little better. Ragsdale added a big hit late and we ran the bases well. It takes a lot of little things to beat a team like Brookstone.”
On March 17, two big innings and another solid pitching performance propelled Schley past FPD, who sits at number seven in the most recent GHSA Private School Power Rankings.
Senior right hander, Leeder, picked up the win for the ‘Cats, throwing four innings and allowing one run on two hits. Leeder struck out two batters. Patrick pitched the final three innings of the game, striking out two batters and allowing one hit and no runs.
RBI singles by Clint Sellars, Will Barry, and Jarrod Wall in the third inning propelled the ‘Cats to an early 5-0 lead. Schley’s boys had another big inning in the fifth inning when junior, Clint Sellars, hit a bases-loaded double off the left-center wall to drive in three runs.
Sellars and Barry led the ‘Cats at the plate with two hits each. Leeder, Hutchens, and Wall collected hits in the contest as well.
“FPD is a very solid team,” Cheek said after the win. “They knocked us off last year early in the season on a miserably cold night. Michael [Leeder] looked really good his first three innings. It was good to get him out there against a strong offensive team and see him have success. We only struck out four batters in the whole game. That means two things; they are pretty good at the plate and our defense was outstanding. Our middle infield (Usry, Howell) made some really great plays to save hits and turned a nice 4-6-3 double play in the bottom of the fifth. Chase [Patrick] came in relief and was outstanding again. He pitched ahead in the count and got ground balls. That’s all we can ask for.”
“We had some key hits early,” Cheek continued. “Jarrod Wall had a big RBI single for us and Clint Sellars had a big day at the plate. He drove in our first run in the third and cleared the bases in the fifth. He’s finally getting healthy and it’s showing at the plate.”
The following afternoon, Howell dominated the Taylor County Vikings, allowing only a first-inning single in his seven innings of work. The Vikings scored two runs in the first stanza on the lone single and an RBI ground out. After that, Schley’s powerful defense kept every Viking batter from reaching first base for the remainder of the match.
Taylor’s pitcher, Zach Kendrick, kept the ‘Cats’ bats at bay early in the game.
Schley put their first run on the board in the third inning when Ragsdale scored on a Viking throwing error.
The Wildcats tied the game in top of the fourth inning on a Barry single that drove in Patrick.
The ‘Cats took command in the top of the sixth inning. Usry led off with a single and stole second before completing his trek around the bases on a Sellars RBI single to left field. Patrick followed with a single, leaving runners on first and third.
After Patrick stole second, Howell delivered a clutch two-run double to right center, giving Schley the 5-2 advantage. Schley’s boys tacked on three more runs on a Ragsdale single, an RBI hit from Hutchens, and a wild pitch.
Howell struck out 14 batters in his seven innings on the hill, retiring 20 consecutive batters after giving up the two runs in the initial frame.
On the victory, Cheek stated, “It took Blake [Howell] a couple of batters to get comfortable out there, but when he did, he was lights out. We couldn’t get our offense going early. Their lefty [pitcher] kept us off balance at the plate. We’re thankful that [Howell] had that kind of performance in him to give us a chance to come back. The biggest thing was the weather. We were down 2-1 in the fourth and we kept thinking the rain was going to come in. I knew we were going to get some runs, but funny things can happen in rain shortened games. I can’t say enough about how well [Howell] pitched – and how big his double was that gave us the lead. Barry had a huge hit to tie the game for us in the fourth inning and the bats came to life in the fifth.
The Wildcats used 14 hits in three innings to sweep St. Anne-Pacelli 16-0 in Columbus on March 21. Patrick picked up the win, tossing two innings, allowing one hit, and striking out five batters. Sellars pitched the third inning, striking out all three batters he faced.
The Wildcats’ day at the plate was highlighted by Wade Law’s two-run homer in the third inning; the first of his varsity career. Law added an RBI single in the second stanza to finish with three RBIs on the day. Hutchens had another big day at the plate, batting 3-3 on the day with two doubles, and stolen bases to go with a pair of RBIs.
The ‘Cats recorded six doubles in the contest; two by Hutchens, two by Howell, and one each from Sellars and Leeder.
According to Cheek, “Chase [Patrick] looked strong again on the mound. He was locating his pitches and his slider was devastating. It was great to get Clint [Sellars] some work on the mound. He’s been sidelined a little with an injury and he gives us some great depth on the mound.”
“The way we hit the ball at Pacelli is how we’ve been hitting at practice on the field and in the cage,” Cheek continued. “ We’ve been a little frustrated that it hasn’t carried over to the games. We’ve relied on pitching and defense so far, but I think our offense is about to explode. It’s just a matter of getting everyone hot at the same time. Josh [Hutchens] continues to set the table for us and the guys behind him are starting to feel it at the plate. It was awesome to see Wade [Law] get his first dinger. He’ll never forget that.”
The Wildcats traveled to Miller County to take on the Pirates on March 24, earning another 5-0 victory in the contest.
Schley’s boys return to action on March 28, hosting Baconton Charter at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus.