GHSA Baseball Playoffs
Amtmann pitches East Coweta into Elite 8
by Doug Gorman
The East Coweta Indians put the baseball — and potentially the 2013 season — in Cole Amtmann’s hands Thursday afternoon, and the senior right-hander delivered.
Amtmann struck out nine while scattering five hits in a 3-2 complete-game victory over Marietta in the third and deciding game of the Indians’ second-round Class AAAAAA state playoff series.
The win vaulted East Coweta into the Elite 8 while improving the No. 1 state-ranked Indians’ record to 27-3.
“This was a great series,” said East Coweta head coach Franklin DeLoach. “Both teams really had to battle. Marietta played well. They have a great looking bunch of kids. They are well-coached, and they had a great season. It’s a shame one of us had to lose.”
Amtmann threw exactly 100 pitches to deliver the Indians into next week’s state quarterfinals against Milton at home. Milton swept Lambert 7-3 and 9-2 on Thursday at home.
The Indians and Blue Devils were forced into a third game after splitting a doubleheader to open their series Wednesday.
Amtmann, a starting right-fielder for Indians, closed the game with a strikeout with the potential tying run on first.
Despite a high pitch count late in the contest against the Blue Devils, Amtmann never lost focus.
“I had the mentality that whoever was up for them, I was going to get them out,” he said.
DeLoach knew his No. 3 starter could deliver.
“Cole really rose to the occasion,” said DeLoach. “He did an exceptional job for us. He really hasn’t had to pitch a lot, especially going really deep into the game.”
DeLoach equally gave credit to senior catcher Blake Lorow and pitching coach Mark Bowles for Amtmann’s performance.
“You also have to give credit to our catcher Blake Lorow. He did a fantastic job receiving the ball,” DeLoach said. “Hats off also to (assistant) coach Mark Bowles. He did a really good job of getting Cole ready to pitch and keeping him focused during the game.
The Indians staked Amtmann to a 3-0 lead, scoring all of their runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Bryce Gemmel started the offensive fireworks with a one-out single and scored on Amtmann’s base hit. One batter later, third baseman Jon Banks ripped a towering home run to left center for a 3-0 lead.
“I wanted to come out and set a tone,” Banks said. “That’s what I did.”
For Banks, there was a sense of redemption.
Twenty four hours earlier, Banks had two errors as the Blue Devils were able to get the win in game two.
“There are two types of people in baseball, the humble and the about to be,” DeLoach said of Banks. “This time yesterday, that No. 10 over there, was feeling like the goat of the world, and what does he do today, he hits a bomb. I think that is pretty big.”
The Blue Devils cut the lead to 3-1 in the top of the second inning when Eric Henderson led off the frame with a solo home run.
Henderson, threw more than 130 pitches in the win in game two Wednesday to force the series into the third-and-deciding game, but the senior showed little signs of fatigue after being penciled in at shortstop in the finale.
Amtmann quickly recovered after Henderson’s home run with back-to-back strikeouts to get the first two outs of the second inning.
Bradley Piggee made the final out of the inning grounding out to Banks.
East Coweta had chances to push runners across in the second and third innings.
Williams and Gemmel each drew walks in the second, and Geremy Walton and Matthew Myers singled in the third, but all four base runners were left stranded
The Indians also had a chance to bring runs across in the fifth after Banks and Gemmel singled, but Banks was picked off at second in the inning for the last out.
Marietta added its final run of the game in the fifth when Piggee singled and later scored on Travis Wildermuth’s ground out.
From there, Amtmann got stronger, digging down deep and recording a strikeout in the final three innings.
The Indians coach never wavered in his decision to stick with Amtmann in the last inning.
“He still had great command of his pitches so we knew he could go out there and get it done,” Deloach said.
Amtmann was glad his coach had confidence in him going into the last inning.
“I was just trying to think about what I normally do,” Amtmann said. “I used to be a closer, so that was is sort of my comfort zone anyway.”
Offensively, Banks led the way at the plate with two hits.
“We are going to enjoy this for a little while, but we are going to come right back out here tomorrow and have a hard practice,” DeLoach said.
Marietta had one of its best seasons in school history, cracking the top-10 in the Class AAAAAA poll and finishing the year with a 22-9 record.