By VAN HOLLAND
All SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars coach Tommy Tolson could do was shake his head after the game Wednesday in the opening round of the 20th Annual Tarboro Easter Classic. His team couldn't catch a break when they needed one and were unable to make the plays on a couple on ground balls, because of the way the ball bounced. The Cougars were defeated by the Jefferson Area Falcons 9-6 in eight innings.
"We got some bad bounces," Tolson said. "We have to make the big plays in a game like this though."
The Cougars were in the swing of things and had grabbed the momentum from the Falcons in the bottom of the seventh inning when they tied the game at 6-6. Freshman shortstop Jarratt Mobley came through for the Cougars for the second time in the game. With a runner on third, Mobley hit a sacrifice fly to right field and scored Nick Webb to tie the game. The Cougars were excited heading into the top of the eighth, but their defense let them down once again.
Tolson had felt good about the way his team had fought back and tied the game. He had a feeling going into extra innings that they were in command. That all changed for them, because the Cougars committed three errors in eighth, which led to three runs and that took the life out of the Cougars as they began to fold. The inning came with a couple of bad breaks though, because there were two ground balls hit in infield that normally would have had a play made on them, but the ball took funny bounces and squirted through for the Falcons. They took advantage of it and scored three runs.
"We just couldn't catch a break and feel on our faces because of the mistakes," Tolson said. "You can call those two balls in the infield errors but they were tough to make plays on because of the bounces they took. That's just how our season has gone...can't catch a small break to go our way."
Ethan Pawlowski came in the eighth to shut the door on the Cougars and earned the win. Troy Bloom started for the Falcons and gave them four innings of work giving up four runs on two hits. He walked four and struck out one.
Pawlowski, Scott Davidson, Matt Barber and Brett Powers each had two hits apiece for the Falcons.
The Cougars used small ball as their weapon of choice, because they couldn't get hits. They collected only four hits in the game and left five runners on base and three of them were in scoring position.
"We didn't hit the ball like I know we are capable of doing," Tolson said. "We moved runners over and executed when we had the chances but we have to piece together more hits then what we did."
The Cougars were able to execute on four sacrifice bunts in the game, but the timely hitting didn't follow to hold suite for them.
"We were aggressive with some offensive situations," Tolson said. "We just couldn't get the hits when we needed them."
Tolson was pleased with the players who executed at the right times, but said he had players who didn't execute for them at critical times.
"That is the type of stuff that will bite you in the butt," Tolson said.
Tolson said coming into the game, he had already made his mind up, his pitching was going to mixed and matched depending on the situation. He was willing to go with whoever he felt comfortable with at certain time to get to the next round in the winners bracket.
Brayden Morris started for the Cougars, but he lasted only 2 1/3 innings. Morris had his worst outing of the season. He gave up four runs on six hits. He walked four and struck out two. Senior Stephen Thompson relieved Morris in the third and got the Cougars out a jam. He went 5 2/3 innings giving up five runs on four hits, while walking one and striking out two.
"We were going to do whatever we needed to do to get to tomorrow on the winning side of the bracket," Tolson said. "I was ready to mix in whoever i need to so we could get the win."
SouthWest plays at 1:30 p.m. today against the St. Maria Goretti Gaels.