Indians try to slow down Luella bats in 2nd round
by Doug Gorman
Pitching was at the root of East Coweta's first round sweep of Colquitt County in the Class AAAAAA playoffs.
And against a Luella team that scored 18 runs in its sweep of Marietta last week, it hopes to come up big again if the Indians have aspirations of reaching the Elite 8 for the second consecutive year in Class AAAAAA.
The two teams begin a second- round series today with a 3:30 p.m., doubleheader at the East Coweta Baseball Complex.
East Coweta, which takes a 22-5 record along with a 18-game winning streak into this week's best-of-three series with the Lions (17-8), used complete-game shutouts from senior Austin Bellamy and sophomore Thomas Leone to eliminate Colquitt, the No. 4 seed out of 1-AAAAAA.
Bellamy limited the Packers to four hits en route to a 3-0 victory in the Game One, while Leone allowed just one one to help the squad advance with a 6-0 decision in the nightcap.
The Lions, however, expect to be a bigger challenge after pounding out 27 hits in 11-4 and 7-6 victories over a Marietta team that East Coweta held off in last year's second round in three games.
Bellamy is again expected to get the ball in the first game, with Leone set to pitch the nightcap.
'We just want them to go out and just try to win the next pitch,' Indians head coach Franklin DeLoach said. 'That's all we can ask for.'
East Coweta, this year's Region 3-AAAAAA champions, and Luella, a No. 2 seed out of 2-AAAAAA are no strangers, having played in Region 2-AAAAA over back-to-back years prior to reclassification in 2012. The Lions, behind their pitching, won a 2-AAAAA title in 2012.
It's the first meeting between programs since last March.
Last season the two teams played a non-region contest won by East Coweta 8-6.
This year, the pair had at least two common opponents - Lovejoy and Troup - in the non-region schedule. Luella defeated Lovejoy 4-3 and Troup 3-0 while East Coweta defeated the two teams 14-5 and 10-0, respectively.
'Luella is a good baseball program,' DeLoach said. 'Andrew Cooper, their previous coach, did a good job with them, and now Seth Harris has done a good job. They are still really competitive. When they were in our region, they won the region title. They have always been a tough opponent for us and I expect the same this time.'
The two teams will play in a doubleheader today with game one set to start at 3:30 p.m. The third game, if needed is set for Thursday.
One of East Coweta's biggest challenges is finding a way to keep senior Bryant Harris off the bases. Harris recently signed to play at the University of Georgia and had a key RBI double in the first game against the Blue Devils.
Teammates Kolton Ingram and Zachary Skeen each had four hits in the team's 7-6 victory to secure the sweep while benefitting from opponents trying to pitch around Harris.
Two of Ingram's hits were doubles while posting two RBIs in the first round.
'We are going to have to make quality pitches,' Deloach said. 'We are going to have to make routine plays, and try to get them out. We have struggled with that a few times this season. Even though we won, I think we struggled with that last time. The Braves are a testament to that. They went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position last night. You can't leave runners in scoring position and expect to win.'