It’s been quite a while since the Morgan County baseball program has gone back-to-back winning Region Championships. Coach Merritt Ainslie and his assistants have done an outstanding job of putting the Bulldogs on the statewide baseball map in AAA. Two wins over Hart County last Friday gave the Dogs enough to clinch their second Region trophy in so many years. Morgan took on the orange and black Bulldogs from Hartwell in a home double header coming away with 4-0 and 6-3 victories to secure the title.
Overall the Dogs are 15-8, but more importantly 10-1 in 8-AAA contests with their lone loss coming at the hands of a talented Jackson County team that was hot at the plate that night and hitting four round trippers to take the 12-8 win. That was March 9. MOCO hasn’t lost to a Region opponent since then.
In Friday’s opener Hunter Lane pitched a complete game shutout for Morgan scattering only six hits over seven innings that included one strikeout and no walks. It was another gem for the senior righthander who was pitcher-of-the year in 8-AAA in 2017. Offensively, it was third baseman Dominic Arienzo that provided the spark for the Dogs with two hits in three at bats including a double and two RBI’s. Ethan Stamps and Trey Patterson also drove in runs with both going 1-3 on the night.
The second game that ended 6-3 was another good outing for junior Jacob Anderson. The hard-throwing righthander got the win in a complete game seven-inning performance that saw him give up three runs and strike out two hitters along the way. Morgan took the lead at 1-0 in the second stanza off the bat of Brandyn Batchelor who singled in a run on the first pitch of the at-bat to get things going. Hart answered with a run of their own to tie things up in the top of the third. The Bulldogs exploded for five runs in the fourth inning to take the lead for good. Lane tripled to drive in three runs with the big hit of the inning to top off his pitching performance in game one. A wild pitch by Hart gave the Dogs another run before Grant Cofer doubled in the same inning to score another. That was all MOCO needed for the win and their second Region Championship under Ainslie.
The Dogs still have a final three-game Region series with East Jackson to complete the regular season and Region 8-AAA schedule. That series starts April 10 when MCHS travels to East Jackson.