Late inning rally leads Bearcats to win in regular season finale

Published 5:25 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Bainbridge Bearcats capped off the regular season last Friday with a late-game comeback against Cook County.

Caleb Boutwell’s go-ahead run in the sixth inning gave the Bearcats the push they needed, and Bainbridge won 7-6 to improve to 19-7, the best record in the program’s history.

Will Kelley held the mound for six innings, striking out four Hornets, allowing 12 hits and five earned runs. Ty Varnum came onto the mound in the seventh to get a pair of strikeouts and allow one run.

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“It was an awfully good win for our kids,” Coach Brian McCorkle said. “They did a good job, they kept grinding. When you get down early like that, it’s a long game. You just got to find a way to get the game stabilized.”

Bainbridge found themselves fighting an uphill battle quickly as Cook County threw up three runs in the top of the first. Hornet Jalen Wilcox doubled, bringing home Zane Folsom after a single by Folsom got things started. Cook pushed more runs across when Jackson scored on an RBI single by Haven McMillan and McMillan scored on an RBI single by Kyle Cook.

Bainbridge finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Conner Strickland banged out a single to plate Kelley. Cook scored another two runs in the top of the fifth to make the score 5-1.Bainbridge hit a run-scoring switch in the bottom of the fifth, added three to the board. The Bearcats scored on a two-run double by Keith Lyle and a groundout by Kelley.

The Bearcats grabbed the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Boutwell hit a bases-loaded double, scoring Strickland, Carson Inlow and Clark Wiggins to make the score 7-5.

“It was a good at bat,” McCorkle said. “He did a good job of getting the ball in play. He just had a fantastic season offensively and defensibly. When the game is on the line, he’s one of the guys to go to.”

Cook County added just one more run in the seventh, but Varnum struck out the last two pitchers to finish off the Hornets.

Bainbridge travels to Spalding Friday to begin the first round of the Class AAAA State Tournament. They will play two games Friday, starting at 5 p.m., and a tiebreaker on Saturday at 1 p.m., if needed.

“They are a well-coached, extremely fundamental team,” McCorkle said. “Good pitches, good defense, some guys can swing it. They are an incredibly fundamentally sound baseball team. We will have to play the same way. We are going to have to have good pitches and timely hitting.”