By R. Alan Richardson sports editor
Morgan County’s baseball team broke out the brooms this past week by defeating the Blue Devils of Elbert County in three straight. Elbert was previously undefeated in region 8-AAA play before the Dogs took it to them offensively winning 7-5 on Tuesday, and capping it off with a double header win on Friday 14-4 and 4-1. MOCO is now 6-6 in region play that puts them in a position to determine their own destiny in the last two region series of the season. Coach Merritt Ainslie talked about the week, “I was real proud of our focus and execution this past week. The guys are really coming together as a team. Our defense and pitching are keeping us in the games and our offense is picking us up. We have been more disciplined at the plate lately and drawing lots of walks and not bailing out on the inside pitches and getting several hit by pitch free bases each game. I tell the guys that walks and hit batsmen are like singles so take what the pitchers give you and we are doing that. We are now 6-6 in the region and tied for fourth place going into our last two series against Hart County and Jackson County.”
Big innings during the series spurred Morgan’s success. In Tuesday’s game Elbert scored two runs in the first inning, added one more in the fifth, and that’s where it stayed until the Dogs went to work in the sixth. Hunter Lane started the inning off with a single and moved to third on two Blue Devil errors. Maclane Zant walked and Lane score on a single by Justin Miner. Three more consecutive singles by Austin Rapier, Sam Couch, and Dalton Cole allowed the Dogs to score six more runs to take the 7-3 lead. Elbert tried to make things interesting in the seventh when they pushed two more runs across the plate but it was too little and too late as Morgan took the first win of the series 7-5. Friday’s doubleheader started out with the Dogs struggling in their first two at-bats with only one runner reaching base on a walk.
Meanwhile, Elbert was able to score four runs in the third on three singles, a sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, and a hit batsman doing the damage. Morgan responded with a huge third inning of their own sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring nine runs. Elbert County walked or hit eight batters during the third. Cole singled during the melee and Couch cleared the bases with a grand slam to centerfield that sealed the deal. MOCO added five more runs in the fifth to win the game in five innings 14-4. Singles by Rapier, Cole, and Trey Patterson helped the Dogs during the inning and to the win. Miner had another complete game aided by some outstanding defense behind him while striking out five. The Diamond Dogs completed the sweep 4-1 with Patterson on the mound in the nightcap. Ferguson came on in relief in the seventh to shut the door on the Blue Devils.
The only run scored by Elbert was a solo homerun in the sixth, but Morgan had already taken a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Leadoff batter Cole walked and Christian followed him up with a single. Both moved up a base on a fielder’s choice, then scored on a single by Lane up the middle accounting for two RBI’s. Lane later scored after a walk to first baseman Grant Cofer and an error on the Elbert shortstop. The Dogs added another run in the sixth when Rapier singled to drive in Lane who had walked earlier in the inning.