High School Baseball
Luella hands Indians another sour ending
by Doug Gorman
East Coweta picked the wrong time to see an 18-game winning streak hit the skids.
After rolling through the middle of the regular season and first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs, the Indians’ 2014 baseball season came to a screeching halt Wednesday at home after being swept by Luella in the Sweet 16.
The Lions rallied back in the seventh to win the first game 13-8 and carried that momentum into a 10-6 victory in Game Two to advance to the Elite 8.
It’s was the third time in the last four years that East Coweta closed its season in the second round of the state playoffs.
Luella (19-8) moves on to face the winner of Lambert and Mill Creek.
The Indians (22-7), meanwhile, couldn’t overcome 10 errors, five in each game while their worst fears about Luella’s bats also came to fruition as well.
Luella finished with 28 hits over both games, legging out seven bunts for singles.
“We know what our strengths are, said East Coweta head coach Franklin DeLoach. “We have guys who can throw strikes, but what has made us successful is we have guys able to make plays behind them and today we weren’t able to do that. Good teams like Luella are going to make you pay.”
Luella outhit East Coweta 28-15 in the doubleheader.
After pitching a pair of gems against Colquitt County in the first game, senior Austin Bellamy and sophomore Thomas Leone took the losses in the season-ending sweep.
Bellamy struck out three in six innings. Leone pulled double duty, also pitching a third of an inning in relief and getting his only strikeout of the day.
Tyler Exley also had a strikeout in an inning of relief in the second game.
East Coweta also wasted three home runs, hitting two in the first game and one in the second.
Freshman Devonte Brown ripped a home run over the centerfield fence in the third inning of the first game and designated hitter Jaquez Williams hit a solo shot in the fourth.
Luella’s Trey Chapman, however, was the difference maker in the first game, putting an exclamation point on a six-run top of the seventh with a grand slam to round out the scoring.
Chapman also pitched the second game and picked up the win, striking out 10 batters.
Luella jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the nightcap before the the Indians scored four times in the top of the sixth including a two-run homer from Stephan Cruver.
Chapman finished the series five RBIs to lead Luella into the Elite 8.
The losses ended the high school baseball careers for five seniors East Coweta, including Bellamy, centerfielder Bryce Gemmel, catcher Austin Jones, first baseman Matt Meyer and left fielder Cam Smith.
Smith missed the playoffs for the Indians after an appendectomy prior to the final week of the regular season, and the absence was felt after the team committed several errors in the outfield during the postseason, including in the two losses against the Lions.
“I am especially proud of these five seniors,” Deloach said. “Coming into this year we lost so much to graduation, and these guys stepped it up.”
With East Indians trailing 5-3 heading into the fifth inning in game one, Gemmel and Jones each helped spark a five-run rally with a pair of RBI doubles to help give them their first lead of the game at 8-5.
However, they couldn’t build on the momentum.
Luella added two runs in the sixth on an RBI by John Goodman and Chapman to cut cut the lead to 8-7.
Luella then exploded for its six-run seventh getting a triple from Donald Hammond and Chapman’s grand slam to pull past the Indians in the first contest.
East Coweta took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first in the nightcap getting RBIs from Gemmel and Jones, but the the Lions pushed four runs across the plate in the bottom of the second and fourth.
The Indians put one last rally together when it moved four runs across to cut the lead to 8-6 in the top of the sixth, but the Lions added to their side of the scoreboard with their final two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Jones finished his final two games with two RBIs, while Gemmel and Meyer also drove in a run.
Lions 13, Indians 8
Luella 113 002 6 — 13 15 3
East Coweta 101 150 0 — 8 8 5
WP — John Goodman
LP — Austin Bellamy
HR: East Coweta — Devonte Brown, Jaquez Williams. Luella — Trey Chapman
Lions 10, Indians 6
East Coweta 200 004 0 — 6 8 5
Luella 040 402 x —10 13 2
WP — Trey Chapman
LP — Thomas Leone
HR — Stephan Cruver