GHSA Baseball Playoffs
East Coweta splits with Marietta, deciding game today
by Doug Gorman
The East Coweta Indians and the Marietta Blue Devils still have some unfinished business.
After splitting Wednesday’s doubleheader to start the second round of the Class AAAAAA baseball playoffs, the two teams will meet today in a one-game showdown at East Coweta to decide who advances to the Elite 8.
First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m.
East Coweta rallied in the first game to knock off the visiting Blue Devils 3-2, but couldn’t pull off the same feat in the nightcap, falling 11-6.
The first game came down to a pitcher’s duel between East Coweta starter Zack McCurry and Marietta’s Gabe Friese.
Top-ranked East Coweta (26-3), however, hurt itself defensively in the nightcap, committing seven errors and allowing eight unearned runs.
Both teams hit a home run in the doubleheader.
Travis Wildermuth went deep in game one for the No. 10-ranked Blue Devils and Jon Banks ripped a pitch over the fence for East Coweta in the second contest.
“We found away to get that W in game one,” East Coweta coach Franklin DeLoach. “Zack did a great job pitching and we were able to get some timely hitting. In the second game, we had some hits, but they weren’t always timely. We also made way too many errors.”
Trailing 2-0 in the first game, East Coweta rallied back with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, and their lead stood up from there.
The Indians bounced back with some help from the bottom of the order as Blake Lorow singled to start the inning. Tim Manning cut the lead to 2-1 with an RBI single. Travis Williams also reached on a base hit in the inning and both Manning and Williams scored when Bryce Gemmel reached on an error by the third baseman.
The Indians took advantage of some solid base running on the play that turned a bit bizarre as Gemmel was called out after he left the bag thinking a timeout had been called, but the two runs that crossed the plate before the last out of the inning were allowed to count.
The controversy continued when Marietta coach Chris Stafford came out of the dugout to argue both runs being allowed to score.
McCurry pitched his best baseball in the final two innings, striking out four of the Blue Devils’ last six batters en route to the win.
The Indians’ senior right-hander struck out 11 and gave up just four hits in his seven innings of work.
Friese also kept his team in the first in the game with a solid outing from the mound, allowing just five hits and striking out six.
Marietta took control of the game with an unearned run in the top of the first inning after Travis Wildermuth walked and later scored on an error.
Wildermuth gave Marietta the lead with two out in the third when he ripped a homer run, breaking the window of a car parked out just behind the outfield.
The second game started on a sour note for the Indians as Marietta’s Jordan Mathis led off the game with an error and later scored on Travis Wildermuth’s sacrifice fly.
East Coweta played from behind the rest of the way despite out hitting the Blue Devils 11-7 in the loss.
Marietta also relied on the strong arm of game No. 2 starter Eric Henderson who went the distance despite throwing 135 pitches. Henderson struck out eight East Coweta batters to help lift the Blue Devils into the victory in the second game.
The Blue Devils broke the game open in the third inning with five runs to take a 6-0 lead.
East Coweta scored its first run in game two when Travis Williams advanced to first when the third strike got past the Blue Devils’ catcher and he later scored on Gemmel’s base hit.
Marietta added two more runs when Terrance Bulock and Bradley Piggee poked hits and scored on Myles Wilson’s singles.
East Coweta rally attempts was squelched despite scoring two runs in the sixth and three in the seventh.
Williams knocked in Geremy Walton and Matthew Meyer scored walked and later scored in a wild pitch in the sixth.
Senior Cole Amtmann started the seventh with a double and came around on Banks two-run homer. Meyer also walked and scored in the seventh for the East Coweta’s final runs.
DeLoach knows his team has to cut out the errors in the final game of the series.
“It started on that first play in the first inning when they hit a little dribbler, and we threw it away,” he said. “It’s not like they route plays and hit right at somebody. Still we made way too many mistakes."
Now that both teams face a must-win situation, DeLoach is confident his team is going to bounce back.
“That is the good thing about this,” he said. “We live to play another day.”
Despite the loss in game 2, Walton had a solid day at the plate, finishing with a 3-for-4 performance to pace the offense. Two of the center fielders’ hits were infield singles.
Williams also had a multiple-hit day for the Indians, finishing with two singles.
Cole Antmann is expected to get the start for the Indians in the second game.