ADEL -- Cook needed a win Friday night. So like the experienced playoff-tested baseball program they are, they went out and got it.

Cook pounded out 13 hits and crossed the plate 11 times Friday night to defeat Bacon County 11-4 at Bruce Long Field. The win puts the Hornets (11-10, 7-5 region) two games ahead of fifth-place Bacon for the Region 2-AA's last playoff spot.

"This was a big one," Cook head coach Bob Owsley said. "It was very big. I thought the kids stepped up very well. I thought Kyle (Goff) did an excellent job on the mound. He made a couple of mistake pitches, but overall he did a good job. Our defense played well. And we hit the ball. I was real proud of them tonight."

The offense produced all game. Cook scored twice in the first, four times in the second, twice in the fourth, once in the fifth and two more times in the sixth. Chris Howell did what the cleanup hitter is supposed to do, going 4-for-4 with four RBI, driving in a run in each of his at-bats. Zack Mauldin, replacing injured standout Trammel Dukes at shortstop, went 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Jonathan Mathis singled and scored twice, and Jerad Edmondson homered and drove in three runs for Cook on Friday.

"Chris Howell had a great night. Zack Mauldin really stepped up for us with Trammel out and played excellent defense at shortstop," Owsley said. "We had seven cylinders going tonight. Now if we can get those other two to start hitting, we're going to be a good ballclub. We had 15 hits (Thursday) against Thomasville, and 13 tonight."

Mauldin led off the first with a single, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Neal Jones' sacrifice fly. Two batters later, Howell doubled to the fence in right center, scoring Goff for a 2-0 lead.

The hitting continued in the second. Clay Ellis led off the inning with a single. Then Edmondson ripped into a pitch, and sent it down the left field line. The ball slipped around the pole in left and over the short fence for a two-run home run.

Bacon starter Brock Miller was replaced two batters later, but Goff and Howell greeted reliever Jeremy Taylor with consecutive RBI singles, for a 6-1 lead.

Bacon got solo home runs from Bryan Andrews in the second inning and Justin Waters in the fourth, an unearned run in the fourth, and an RBI single by Waters in the fifth to trim the Cook lead 6-4. But Cook wasn't done scoring.

In the fourth, Jonathan Mathis scored on a wild pitch and Howell singled home Mauldin, making it 8-4. Edmondson drove home Jason Lane in the fifth.

In the bottom of the sixth, Taylor retired the first two Hornet batters, but then Goff walked and went to second on a wild pitch, and Howell lined an RBI single to center. Howell later scored on a wild pitch for the Hornets' final run.

Those 11 runs were more than enough for Goff (5-3). Cook's veteran left-hander limited Bacon to three earned runs on seven hits, and struck out six batters. Andrews, Taylor and Waters were the only Raiders to get hits. The win was the 33rd of Goff's career at Cook.

"I threw the ball better than I'd been throwing," Goff said. "I felt like my mechanics were better today."

The 2-AA standings remain tight, with five teams battling for four spots. Brantley County leads at 10-2, followed by Irwin County (8-3), Berrien (7-4), Cook (7-5), and Bacon (5-6). Cook's final two region games come against sixth-place Brooks County Tuesday and last-place Pierce County next Friday.

"We're happy (with how we played)," Goff said. "If we didn't get this one, we probably wouldn't be in the playoffs."



VALDOSTA -- Viking blood donors are needed at Lowndes High School Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"If we get 250 productive units on Friday, we will be the number one school in the states of Georgia and Florida," said Amy Carter, teacher.

All past and present Vikings and Viking friends and family, ages 18 and older, are encouraged to participate in helping Lowndes High School reach this goal. To do so, all potential donors need to preregister through a current student or contact Carter at 245-2260, ext. 131, or at aacarter@lowndes.k12.ga.us.

All donors will receive a T-shirt.

"We are trying our best to schedule appointments," Carter said. "We don't want to overload the American Red Cross staff. We are trying for a good flow."

The blood drive is sponsored by Lowndes High School's Diversified Cooperative Training and SkillsUSA VICA (Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, Inc.) students.

"We have two blood drives a year on campus -- one in the fall and one in the spring," Carter said. "My students are driven by community work. This year, they participated in the United Way Day of Caring, Boy Scouts of America Venturers Program, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Adopt a Grandparent, and sent uplifting cards to overseas U. S. troops."

Last spring, Lowndes High School boasted 215 productive units of blood for the American Red Cross. That drive was in memory of Matt Newell and Missy Hodges, two students killed in an autmobile accident.

This past fall, the school produced 117 productive units of blood.



To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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