Playing on what could be called the most perfect of conditions, blue skies, warm temperatures, a bountiful spread for the team provided by Mrs. Donaldson and Mrs. Hoeve, playing on our home field, having the best fans in the world, thanks Julie and Laura, and facing Mill Springs, your TCS Cougars were once again on the prowl for their third consecutive AAC Baseball Championship.
It has been quoted many times that "Desperate times call for desperate measures". That is exactly what Mill Springs must have thought coming into the game. Employing a defense I had not seen since my professional softball days, the green clad opponents employed what may have been called a short fielder in an attempt to keep us from stealing bases. While the defense may have stymied the Cougars for a bit, it by no means kept them from stealing bases or from scoring.
Shane Hendrickson toed the rubber for the final time in 2018 as he faced off against the opponents from Alpharetta and again, as always, struck out the first batter he faced. In fact he struck out two on his way to a scoreless top of the first inning.
The bottom of the inning saw the young Cougars befuddled by the unusual defense as, for the first time this season in conference play, they went 1-2-3 for the inning. At the end of the first inning, no score.
The second inning was no contest for the sharpshooter on the mound as Shane struck out the side on only 12 pitches.
The bottom of the second inning as the relentless Cougar hitters began to take chunks out of the amour of the suspect defense. Lead-off hitter and catcher, Brett Boyles, hit a screaming line drive to right field for a comfortable triple. Murphy Husnik then promptly sent a line drive over the drawn in outfield, left center field for a double driving in Boyles from third base. Designated hitter Mac DeBalsi then walked. First baseman Alex Hoeve singled driving in Husnik and left fielder DJ Donaldson then singled in DeBalsi to end the scoring for the second inning. Score, TCS 3, Mill Springs, 0.
The third inning featured Hendrickson dealing like a Las Vegas Black Jack dealer as he once again handled the team from the third base dugout with ease, striking out two of the three batters he faced and got out of the inning by throwing only 12 more pitches. Score at the break, Cougars, 3 and Mustangs, 0
Shortstop Sasha Torri hitting after a put out, hit a single and Pitcher Shane Hendrickson hitting a double scoring Torri from first. Third baseman Murphy Husnik coaxed a walk and then advanced to second on Brett Boyle ground out which scored both Hendrickson and Husnik on a heads up play by Husnik who read the ball properly after an over throwback to the pitcher who was not paying attention as Husnik rounded third, never hesitating, scoring easily to their opponents dismay. At the end of three innings of play, The Purple Clad Two Time Defending AAC Baseball Champions 6, the other guys, 0.
The fourth inning saw Shane give up a hit to begin the inning but reached back and found strength to strike out the next batter, surrendered a single, got the next batter to ground out and then stuck out the final batter of the inning keeping the score the same.
The bottom of the inning saw the Cougars break out the war clubs as they proceeded to score 6 runs on a double by D J Donaldson, singles by Sasha Torri, Shane Hendrickson, a walk by Brett Boyles, and a walk by Murphy Husnik and Mac DeBalsi. At the end of four complete innings of play, TCS 12, Mill Springs, 0.
Going into the 5th inning for the first time in conference play this year and needing only three outs to seal the deal and secure their third straight conference championship, the Cougars took the field. The inning started off well as the first batter grounded into a spectacular 6-3 put out as senior shortstop Sasha Torri ranged far to his left going behind the second base bag, scooping up the ball and firing a laser to first baseman Alex Hoeve for the first out of the frame. The next batter then sent a ball high into center field, where fly balls go to die, as center fielder Larry Orsini caught the ball for the second out. The next batter then singled. The next batter then singled putting runners at first and second. The fifth batter of the inning then singled scoring the runner form second base. This put runners at first and second. The next two hitters took first on consecutive hit by pitches driving in the second and third runs of the game by MSA. Shane then took matters into his own hand and struck out the next batter to end the scoring for the visitors. Score now reads, TCS, 12, MSA 3.
The Cougars, needing only one run to secure their title were confident in their ability to put the game away. Little did they know it would be in thrilling fashion. After an out, Sasha Torri in his final at bat as a Cougar worked a walk and advanced to third on a put out of Shane Hendrickson. With the winning score only 90 feet away, catcher Brett Boyles then stepped up to the plate and sent a message to the entire AAC, as he sent a majestic, towering, howitzer shot to center field that landed with a mighty thud on the top of the fence and bounced gleefully over the fence for his first homerun of his TCS career and thus ending all hope of any satisfaction by the team in the field. Final score, THE NOW THREE TIME AAC BASEBALL CHAMPIONS 14, Mill Springs, 3.
Next up: Sports Banquet, May 10 in the Cougar Center. See you there
Your Humble and Proud Coaches
Casey and Cecil