Schley County Baseball Team wins Region 4-1A Championship

Published 2:53 pm Monday, April 23, 2018

ELLAVILLE – The Schley County Baseball Team (22-2, 14-1) ran towards the centerfield Wall to sit on top of it and pose for pictures after they had just beaten their region rivals, Brookstone, by the score of 8-3 to win the Region 4-1A Championship on Friday, April 20, at Wildcat Ball Park.

However, for the Wildcats, this is just par for the course. They are already the defending GHSA Class-A State Champions. Last year’s state championship was the second in the last three years for the Wildcat Baseball program. While they are happy to win the region championship for the second year in a row, their ultimate goal still awaits: to repeat as state champions and win the program’s third state title in the last four years.

In defeating Brookstone (24-5, 12-2) to win the region title, the Wildcats exacted revenge for getting trounced by the Cougars 12-2 on Thursday, March 15, in Columbus.

“We’ve got so much respect for Brookstone and Coach (Vince) Massey and all their guys. They’ve got a lot of seniors,” Schley County head coach Chuck Cheek said. “Every year, it’s us and Brookstone for a region championship. They’ve got a phenomenal program, phenomenal coaches. Anytime you beat them, you know you’ve earned something.”

Schley County starting pitcher Dylan Taylor struck out seven Brookstone batters to lead the Wildcats to the Region 4-1A Championship.
Photo by Cricket Whitaker

The Wildcats did indeed earn this win. Schley County starting pitcher Dylan Taylor had a phenomenal game on the mound for the Wildcats. He got off to a great start in the top of the first inning, striking out the side to begin his dominate pitching performance. Taylor worked 4.2 innings, giving up three runs on four hits. He walked two, but most notably, struck out seven Cougars. “It was good. It was really good. The first time through the lineup, it was fast ball, curve ball,” Cheek said. “The second time through, we went to the change-up some. Coach (William) Rooks. He and Jody (Sellars) kind of tag team our pitchers, and then William calls pitches in the games. He did a really good job calling pitches. Dylan and Ashton (Goodin) did a really good job of executing the pitches. It just blows me away that these kids have this much talent and ability, and also the composure. This was a playoff atmosphere here today. I thank all the fans from both teams for showing up. It was a great atmosphere.” Coach Cheek also praised the relief work of Junior pitcher Ashton Goodin. Goodin came in to pitch in the top of the fifth inning with two outs after Brookstone’s Trey Lingo belted a two-run homer off Taylor to make it 6-3 Schley County. “Ashton comes in. Does what he’s done for us: throws strikes, gets guys out,” Cheek said.  Cheek went on to mention third baseman Jordan Hall’s defensive play that stopped one of Brookstone’s rallies. Cheek also mentioned that the two insurance runs the Wildcats got in the bottom of the sixth were huge. “It expanded the lead a little bit…let us relax,” Cheek said. “We knew they were going to make a run. The lead-off guy gets a hit. They get guys on base. If that’s still a three-run game. It’s getting dicey because Lingo’s up, Massey’s up. Those guys can swing it. “

Schley County Catcher Wade Law belted a solo home run in the bottom of the third to help lead the Wildcats to a region championship.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The crucial two runs that Coach Cheek was referring to came in the bottom of the sixth inning. At that point, Schley County had a 6-3 lead. Camron Vanlerberghe led off the inning by grounding out. Then Wade Law hit a double. After Chance Hollomon struck out, Cameron Belcher reached on an error by Brookstone shortstop Trey Sanders. A run scores on the play and Belcher advances to second.  Ricky White was brought in to run for Belcher. Then Ashton Goodin doubles, scoring White to give the Wildcats the two insurance runs they needed.

In the top of the seventh, Jeremiah Burgess led off the inning with a single, but was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice by Richard Hill. Lingo then singled to center field, allowing Hill to advance to second. However, Banks Massey grounded into a double play to end the game.

Schley County built a 6-1 lead early. The Wildcats scored two in the first, one in the second and two in the third thanks to Wade Law’s two run homer. The Cougars scored their first run in the top of the second. The Wildcats led 5-1 going into the bottom of the fourth. Jordan Hall led off with a single. After Dylan Taylor and Camron Vanlerberghe both struck out, Wade Law got hit by a pitch, advancing Hall to second. Hall then advanced to third on a passed ball, then scored on an error by the Cougars’ catcher Trey Lingo, making it 6-1 Schley County.

In the fifth, Trey Lingo’s two-run homer would pull the Cougars to within three, but that would be as close as they would get.

Both teams are headed to the Class-A State Playoffs. Schley County gets a bye in the first round. They will play the winner between Hawkinsville and Pelham on Thursday, May 3, at Wildcat Ball Park.