ZEBULON -- The three-day wait wasn't worth waiting for the Cook High Hornets, who were stymied by the pitching of the Pike County Pirates in their second round AA state playoff series Saturday.
The Pirates rallied from a 1-0 series deficit to win games two and three 6-3 and 5-3 to advance to next week's quarterfinal round against Walker.
The Hornets end their season at 16-11.
"I'm proud of our kids," said Cook head coach Bob Owsley. "They played their hearts out. That's all I can ask of them."
Pike County 6, Cook 3 (game 1)
After fighting back from a 2-0 first inning deficit to lead 3-2 on the heels of a third-inning rally, the Hornets effort came to nill in the fourth when Travis Kendrick broke a 3-3 fifth inning tie with a towering three-run home run to left field.
Trailing 2-0, Jason Lane sparked the Hornets in the third with a lead off double followed by Kasey Luke drawing a walk. After Jonathan Mathis struck out, Zack Mauldin got the Hornets on the board with a single to bring around Lane.
Neal Jones then hit a line drive misplayed by second baseman Kent Strickland. Both runners scored on the play as McDaniel, the Pirate centerfielder bobbled the ball and gave Cook the lead.
The Pirates knotted the score an inning earlier on a single by Chris Watts to score Travis McDaniel, who took led off the frame on a fielding error by Cook third baseman Jason Lane.
As was the case for most of game two, the Cook bats were held to near silence over the last two innings with Watts who picked up the win allowing on hit in the span. Aside from Cook's three-run third inning, Watts allowed three hits in seven innings.
Pike County jumped on Hornet starting pitcher Trammell Dukes early, taking a 2-0 lead on back to back RBI singles by Strickland and Bo Noon that plated Watts and Matt Kelly.
In seven innings, Dukes gave up six runs along with 10 hits.
Zack Mauldin led Cook at the plate with two hits.
"With all the injuries and having to flip-flop
positions, they've played above their heads to get to this level," Owsley said. "We had every opportunity to go on. If we would have just done what we've been doing the last few weeks we might still be playing."
Pike County 5, Cook 3
The Hornets were unable to cash in on key scoring opportunities in game 3, as a 5-0 deficit was too much for Cook to overcome.
Kyle Goff, going on three day's rest after pitching seven innings in Wednesday's first game was the losing pitcher. In a complete game effort, he gave up five runs, four unearned, while scattering nine hits.
"Both Kyle and Trammell deserved better," Owsley said.
Clay Ellis had three hits in game 3 for the Hornets.
Mauldin scored the Hornets first run of the game to cut into a 5-0 hole after being awarded home from third base when game 3 Pirate starter Corey Watts was charged with a balk. Mauldin singled with one out, took second on an infield hit by Neal Jones and moved to third on a Goff sacrifice fly.
Jones, who advanced to second on the balk scored on a two-out single by Ellis.
Down 5-2, Cook staged a desperate jab at either a tie or win in their final at-bat.
After Jones led off with a solo homer, Goff reached on an error and Pirate reliever Tyler Smith, who came on after the fifth inning, walked Chris Howell to put runners on first and second with no outs.
It was not in the cards for the Hornets, however. Ellis grounded out, Jerad Edmondson struck out and Blake Mainor grounded out to end the game.
"I know that in five innings of this game right here (Game 3) we had people in scoring position and couldn't get the big hit," Owsley said. "We started pounding around a little bit here in the last few innings, but that's just the way baseball is."
Pike County went ahead in the second inning when Edmondson couldn't handle Zack Mauldin's throw from shortstop as it reached first base, enabling Matt Kelly to score from third. Kelly reached when Jonathan Mathis lost a fly ball in the sun.
Two batters after Kelly scored, a Zack Garner line drive caromed off Mainor's glove, scoring Noon.
"We threw the ball around today, off all times to make those mistakes and it really hurt us," Owsley said.
Pike County scored twice more in third on RBI singles by Kelly and Noon to score Blake Parrott and Kelly. The Pirates' final run came in the fourth when Parrott singled in McDaniel.
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