By R. Alan Richardson
With the Varsity Dogs having a tremendous year with a young team it looks like next year will be more of the same. The Junior Varsity and Middle School teams are showing off their winning ways and playing some sound and fundamental baseball this year.
Morgan’s Middle School team played Franklin this past Friday coming away with a 4-1 win showing some steady pitching and great defense behind them. The first thing you could pick up from these young men in the dugout was that they were having fun! Head Coach Michael Campbell is making sure of that! He may be the biggest kid in the dugout and having more fun than they are. Secondly, you notice that fundamentals are being stressed and that’s what these kids need at this level. Consider this; they did not commit a single error in the game. Now, that’s what it’s all about for a middle school team. Even though they did strike out seven times, they had good at-bats swinging at good pitches and fighting on every pitch while getting seven hits in the contest.
The story of the game was Triston Stapp. You’ve heard the old line that “Speed Kills” and that’s what this kid has. He was 3-3 at the plate also drawing a walk, stole five bases, scored three of the four Morgan runs and was the starting pitcher. On the mound he pitched a perfect two innings before giving up a single in the third. His defense helped him out on a couple of occasions before Ben Coody came on in relief. Coody shut down a third inning rally by retiring three straight hitters to end a rally and allowed only two hits in three innings of work while striking out three. Luke Knight got the save in the seventh giving up a hit before a double play ended the game at 4-1.
The Dogs got one in the first on a Stapp single, Knight’s sacrifice bunt, and a double to right by Will Harper. Franklin answered with one of their own in the third to tie things up at 1-1, but MOCO came right back with one of their own. Stapp singled and stole second and third before an error by the pitcher allowed him to score to take the 2-1 lead. Morgan added to their advantage in the fifth when Stapp walked and again stole two more bases. Knight got hit by a pitch, stole second and Harper walked to load the bases. Maddox Smith came through with the big hit of the night, a single that drove in both Stapp and Knight for two RBI’s and the final score of 4-1.
Campbell and Coach Harris Warbington are giving these young men a great baseball experience that all the parents, players, and community should appreciate.
While the Middle Schoolers took their win, the JV went up against an always tough North Oconee squad in a double header on Saturday. Coach Wade Woodall had these comments, “We won both games 6-2 and 5-0. It was a complete team effort that started with good pitching. AJ Stinnett and Hunter Middlebrooks went the distance in their respective games pitching extremely well. We had quality at bats and big hits from top to bottom in the lineup. Defensively we played well committing only one error in each game but rebounded to strand the runner each time. When the pitchers got in trouble the D picked them up.”
Being around this young man (Woodall) at varsity games it’s apparent that he is a baseball junkie who has a tremendous rapport and connection with the players. His knowledge, ability to teach the intricacies, and love for the game of baseball will take him far. Morgan County’s baseball program is fortunate to have someone with his expertise working with our kids.