The Valdosta Daily Times
The Cook Hornets started strong, settled and then finished strong. The end result was exactly what they wanted, though: With a win.
Cook improved to 2-0 in the Wildcat Invitational — and on the season — with a 6-3 win over the Taylor Co. (Fla.) Bulldogs Thursday afternoon.
“That one was either teams to take right there,” Cook head coach Cleve Edwards said. “I think both teams had opportunities to put the game away and I don’t think either team really did….We were able to take advantage of some things that happened and then we settled on it. We have to do a better job, as coaches, to stay on our guys. In region play, we would be lucky to get out with a win.”
The Hornets sprang for three runs in the first inning, adding another in the fourth, to take a 4-0 lead, looking as though they were going to run away with the game. Taylor County managed a pair of runs in the fourth inning and adding another in the fifth inning to make the game interesting.
Then, clinging to a one-run lead in the sixth inning, Cook’s Parker Bennett recorded two massive strikeouts in the top half of the inning — getting out of a bases loaded jam — before knocking in a pair of runs with a two-run double in the bottom half of the inning to bolster the Hornets lead to 6-3.
“We got that double there in the sixth, that about sealed it,” Edwards said.
Ross Pickle started the Hornets’ first inning run scoring, reaching base after taking a pitch in the ribs. He scored on a grounder by Zane Folsom later in the frame. Blake Cowart reached on a single and scored on a Taylor County wild pitch. Then, Pate Betts, pelted in the side of the helmet — he laughed it off on the to first base — scored on a single by Stanton Moore.
Pickle scored again in the third inning after reaching base on a double. He started the inning with a double and scored three batters later on a sacrifice fly by Folsom.
Three straight singles to start the fourth inning for the Bulldogs produced their first run of the day. That was followed up by their second run scoring on a strikeout on a wild pitch that forced Pickle, Cook’s catcher, to throw down to first base. That, and a bad throw from first, allowed the runner from third to score easily.
In the fifth inning, Taylor County got a run off a RBI groundout, which was set up after Cook pitcher Sam Goderdham — the starter that was pulled two batters into the fifth — issued a walk and a single, followed by an issued walk by freshman Connor Hilliard. Hilliard got out of the inning by inducing a strikeout and a groundout.
“Eighteen (Hilliard) is just a freshman. Talk about a big situation. He came in got the strikeout against the three hole and four hole guys,” Edwards said. “He is not a bad one.”
Cook added to its lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Bennett connected on his two-run, two-out double that scored Moore and Blake Daughtrey.
The Hornets got out of a jam in the third inning, when Taylor County loaded the bases on Goderdham. After starting the inning with a wild throw from Pickle on a required throw out to first base on a strikeout, Goderdham issued a walk and a hit a batter — he had a sacrifice grounder in between — before recording a flyout and a grounder to get out of the jam.
Cook ran into trouble again in the top of the sixth inning. Clinging to their one-run lead, the Hornets allowed the Bulldogs to load the bases on three straight walks. After a pitching change, Bennett, who issued one of the walks, recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning, leaving the bases jammed for the Taylor County.
Blake Cowart was 2 for 3 with a run scored and a stolen base. Pickle finished 1 for 2 with a hit-by-pitch and two runs scored.
Goderdham earned the win for the Hornets. He allowed three runs on five hits with five strikeouts in his four innings of work. Hilliard was awarded with a hold and Bennett the save.
The Hornets will look to improve to 3-0 on the season Saturday, when they host the Madison County (Fla.) Cowboys in Adel.