Wildcats jet to state championship game on Abbeville sweepPublished 2:51pm Thursday, May 1, 2014
Edgewood manufactured runs just about every way possible to sweep Abbeville Christian in the AISA Class A semifinal series Wednesday at Billy Skinner Field, taking both games in five innings 11-1 and 15-1.
From home runs, to hits and walks–to even stealing home–the Wildcats poured it on the Generals under a light rain on the way to its sixth consecutive AISA state championship game appearance.
First-inning runs in both games–and how Edgewood got them–built the path to big innings later. Senior third baseman Heath Young opened the doubleheader with a two-out, two-run homer, his first on the year.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit lately,” Young said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of work, it was good to get that off my chest a little bit.”
Young finished the series with four hits and four RBIs, a welcomed sight for Carr and his teammates.
“That was really good for Heath because he’s kind of been in a little funk the last few weeks,” Carr said. “He was really seeing the ball well. Hopefully, he’ll keep it up. Hopefully, our other kids continue to feed off of that.”
Edgewood scored at least one run in every inning of Game 1, capped by a five-run fifth that ended the game. Sophomore Christian Smith roped a two-run double with two away to put the Wildcats up 9-1. After a wild pitch that brought home a run, senior Taylor Hawthorne batted in the game-winning run.
Senior pitcher Chase Laney (9-3) picked up the win, striking out seven, and allowing a run on three hits.
After a 15-minute wait between games where bigger raindrops fall and with the ‘Cats taking offense first in the nightcap, Carr saw his team needed to regain its energy.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the first, junior David Cayton stole home off Abbeville pitcher Griffin Fenn to jumpstart his team.
“Coach just gave me a heads-up on third about how slow the pitcher was going to the plate,” Cayton said. “I stole it to try to get us in this game.”
“We had our fastest kid on the team on third base,” Carr said, “and we thought that might kind of get us going a little bit because we kind of in a little lull stage.”
The leadoff hitter accounted for four runs, while going 3-for-3 at the dish and an RBI.
“As leadoff I just try doing the little things, getting on base, letting my team drive me around,” Cayton said. “I think everyone, together as a whole, did everything right. We all swung the bat real well and we all did the little things that made us win these games.”
Leading 2-1 heading into the top of the fifth, Edgewood exploded for 13 runs. Young’s two-run double extended the team’s advantage to 6-1 and later, two runs scored when Hawthorne reached on an error as the Wildcats went on to take a 15-1 lead.
Starting pitcher Smith (10-0) retired the side in the bottom of the fifth to earn the win. He gave up one run on three hits and fanned six.
“Everything you do is contagious,” Carr said. “That one big inning in that second game we scored 13 runs. We preach to our kids every day, look for the big inning and that’s what we did in both games today.
“We talk about that everyday. Do the little things right and big things happen.”
Young said after dropping the last two games of the regular season, putting together big innings to end the semifinal games are the right way to head into the state title game.
“We kind of hit rock bottom there at the end of the regular season, losing two in a row,” he said. “I thought we got ourselves back on track now, hitting the ball good. That’s the way you want to go into a state championship game.”
The Wildcats (38-5) will take Patterson Field in Montgomery Tuesday at 10 a.m. for the Class A championship doubleheader and, if necessary, will play Wednesday at 3 p.m.