For the Daily Journal
After an unlikely offensive source kept Greenwood Christian Academy’s baseball team in the game Saturday, uncharacteristic miscues ended the Cougars’ season at the Class A Morristown Regional.
Ninth-place hitter Nobie Pearcy drove in all three Greenwood Christian runs Saturday, but an error and a passed ball in the 10th inning doomed the Cougars in a 5-3 semifinal loss to Jac-Cen-Del.
The loss ended Greenwood Christian’s season at 15-7 and ended the high school careers of six seniors.
But it also ended a season in which the Cougars won a third straight sectional title and a first-ever conference championship.
“Everybody will be able to step back and realize that (today) or Tuesday,” Greenwood Christian coach Doug Hagist said of the players. “They gave 10 innings of everything they had. They’re the winningest group in GCA history (of any team in any sport).
“They’ve accomplished quite a bit.”
Pearcy’s final RBI came on a single that scored Colton Crick and tied the game 3-3 in the eighth inning after Jac-Cen-Del had taken a 3-2 lead in the top half of the frame.
But Greenwood Christian stranded a baserunner in scoring position in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings when a run would have won the game.
Nolan Check, who was the winning pitcher in the Cougars’ sectional championship game triumph May 30 against Waldron, pitched the eighth and ninth innings after Krae Sparks held the Eagles to two runs through seven innings.
Check ran into trouble in the 10th. He gave up a walk, single and another walk before Joel Stinnett relieved him. With the bases loaded and one out, Stinnett induced a ground ball to third base. The Cougars got a force out at home, but Check, now catching, committed a throwing error trying to complete a double play at first base. That allowed the go-ahead run to score. A passed ball scored Jac-Cen-Del’s fifth and final run.
“Nolan has always been solid for us, but he was just a little bit off (Saturday),” Hagist said. “He was just in a hurry (on the error); he just gunned it and it sailed on him.
“We beat ourselves, and that’s not like us.”
Despite the loss, Hagist expressed pride in what seniors Sparks, Pearcy, Brice Walters, Ray Haltom, Nate Weems and Josh Lovins helped the program achieve. GCA began its varsity program in 2012, and completed in state tournament play for the first time in 2013, when the now-departed seniors were freshmen.
“It was as if this team wasn’t ready to be done,” Hagist said. “When we won our sectional games last week, there were just handshakes. There was very minimal celebrating.
“Four of these guys (Weems, Sparks, Walters and Pearcy) have been with me four years, and the program’s only been here four years.”