The Valdosta Daily Times
Cook and Screven County played two closely contested games Saturday afternoon in Adel, battling to a doubleheader split to force a third and decisive game in round one of the GHSA playoffs.
In game one, starters Wyatt Beasley and Sam Goberdhan kept the game low-scoring, putting zeroes on the scoreboard until the fourth inning. The Hornets struck first in the home-half of the fourth, using an RBI groundout from Hunter Harrell to plate the game’s first run and take a 1-0 lead.
Cook added insurance in the bottom of the fifth, scoring three runs thanks to three throwing errors on the same play by the Gamecocks. The play started when Zane Folsom hit a sac fly to left field, allowing Connor Hilliard to score and push the Cook lead to two. Stacy Sailor and Dalton Rentz also scored on the play thanks to an array of throwing errors by the Screven County defense.
The Hornets would need every one of those runs, as the Gamecocks came back to score three of their own in the top of the sixth. Cook starter Goberdhan made several good pitches in the inning, but his defense let him down as two unearned runs scored in the inning and third baseman Shadon Kemp ripped a single to left to score another.
Parker Bennett relieved Goberdhan and escaped the sixth inning jam, preserving the 4-3 lead for the Hornets. Bennett stayed in to finish the game and pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning to shut the Gamecocks down and take a 1-0 series lead.
Folsom, Bennett, Harrell, and Blake Cowart each had one hit to pace the Cook offense in game one. Goberdhan received the win, as he pitched five and a third innings and didn’t allow an earned run. He threw 46 of his 71 pitches for strikes and struck out four.
Jacob Smith and Tyler Dixon each had two hits for Screven in the series opener and Kemp had two runs batted in to pull the Gamecocks back into the game. Beasley received the loss in game one, despite allowing only one earned run. He threw 54 of his 94 pitches for strikes, walking five and striking out four.
Game two was a thriller, as the two teams exchanged the lead several times before Screven walked off in the bottom of the seventh. Cook plated one in the top of the first before Screven’s Kemp and Caleb Krulic helped plate two runs to put the Gamecocks on top. Folsom, who was Cook’s top hitter in the doubleheader, responded in the top of the second with a double to help Cook regain the lead.
Screven quickly tied it before retaking the lead in fifth thanks to a Brandon Whatley homerun that put Screven just a couple outs away from tying the series.
The craziness started in the seventh inning, when Cook was down to their final out when Maysoe Wiley singled to left field to tie the game at four apiece. In the bottom of the seventh, Aaron Brower hit an infield single to the shortstop to put the game-winning run on base. He proceeded to steal second and third to put the winning run just 90 feet from home, and Cook responded by intentionally walking both Whatley and Kemp.
Smith provided the late-game heroics for the Gamecocks, as he blasted a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall to force a game three on Monday night.
Carl Heindel was the winning pitcher for Screven, pitching a complete game and striking out nine. He threw 57 of his 113 pitches for strikes. Parker Bennett received the loss for Cook, but Dalton Rentz pitched a solid game for the Hornets.
Game three of the series will be Monday afternoon and three o’clock.