Prep Baseball: Newnan rally falls short vs. Pike Co.

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Newnan shortstop Will Dreggors (9) and second baseman Derrick Nelson look toward the second base umpire after Nelson successfully tagged out a Pike County runner on a stolen-base attempt during Friday’s game at Joe Pope Field.

By DOUG GORMAN
dgorman@newnan.com
For the second night in a row, the Newnan Cougars baseball team tried to don rally caps.
This time, it didn’t work.
Trailing 3-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Newnan’s hopes for stealing a victory ended just short as it fell to visiting Pike County 3-2 on a wintry cold night.
“We battled back and had a chance to win,” said Newnan head coach Kenny Morris. “We just couldn’t get it done, but that’s baseball.”
The loss dropped Newnan to 3-1 on the year heading into Tuesday’s home game against LaGrange.
Just 24 hours earlier, the Cougars came from behind to beat Sandy Creek 5-4, but Friday night the game ended with the bases loaded at the winning run standing at second base.
On Friday, the Cougars’ seventh-inning rally attempt started when the Pike County pitching staff stop finding the strike zone. Charles Reeves, Will Dreggors and Rodney Tennie drew walks to load the bases.

Then with one out, Justin Groover watched four pitches sail out of the strike zone for a walk to bring home Reeves to cut the lead to 3-1. A solid at-bat by catcher Sam Buchanan also resulted in a walk to bring home Dreggors. It turned out to be the last run the Cougars scored.

The next two batters struck out to end the game.

Despite the loss, Newnan enjoyed solid pitching from starter Brandon Dawson and Derrick Nelson. The two pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts.

At times the Cougars were their own worst enemy, committing four errors and managing just three hits against the Class AAA squad from Zebulon.

“We have been very good defensively this year,” Morris said. “Tonight, we made four errors and we had a couple of more plays that we should have made, and that was the difference in the game.”

The Cougars fell behind 1-0 in the first inning when lead-off hitter Cayden Sowell reached on an error. From there, things went down hill for the Cougars.

As Sowell led off from first, a wild pick-off attempt went into right field, allowing the Pike base runner to wind up at third. Two batters later, Kurt Cox drove Sowell in with a single.

Despite fielding problems by the Cougars, the game turned into a pitchers’ duel.

After Pike County scored on the unearned run in the first, Newnan pitcher Brandon Dawson worked four solid innings, striking out at least one batter in every inning. Dawson left the game in the fifth inning after retiring six Pirate batters with strikeouts. The senior right-hander struck two in a row to start the second and also struck out two batters in the third for his best innings of work.

Although Pike County scored two runs off of reliever Derrick Nelson in the sixth, he threw some solid innings, striking out five. Nelson retired the side in his first inning of work in the fifth, striking out two. He also ended the sixth with back-to-back strikeouts.

Offensively, lead-off hitter, Devin Henry singled and walked for the Cougars. Connor Dunn and Tennie had the only other hits for the Cougars.

(To view photos from this game, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports for  the Photo Gallery.)



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