April 26, 2008

Canes Win a Thriller, Refuse to Lose the Season Finale

By CHRIS WHITAKER
Sports Editor
Americus Times-Recorder

AMERICUS - Forget the previous six at-bats.

When Georgia Southwestern senior Pat McCarthy stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 14th inning with two outs and Daniel Lynn standing on second base, something was bound to happen. Either the last out or maybe the game-winning hit.

McCarthy chose the latter and stroked the game-winning hit to right field and the Hurricanes knocked off No. 8 Columbus State, 8-7, on senior day to end the season.

GSW (17-34, 7-20) had lost its previous four games to Columbus State (39-15, 19-8) this season, including a 9-1 loss earlier in the day.

"I had been up there a few times earlier in the game with two outs and runners in scoring position, but I couldn't get them in," said McCarthy, one of six seniors. "The third time, I got enough on it to get it to the outfield and score the winning run. The previous two times were frustrating. I wanted to make sure to get the job done."

Zack Stanton started the 14th by recording his fourth hit of the game. Leadoff hitter Nick Rex followed with a bunt for his fourth hit; an error on the play scored Stanton and moved Rex to third. Two batters later, a Byron Haynes groundout tied the game at 7, but made two outs.

That's when McCarthy stepped in and did his work.

"It's a good feeling and a good way to end my last game," he said. "We battled and battled and battled. We were down two or three times but kept coming back and we finally got one more run."

McCarthy praised the pitching, saying it kept the Hurricanes in the game. Starting pitcher Andrew Whiggum went seven innings allowing four runs on eight hits while striking out six. Bud Fuller pitched five innings, Austin Smith pitched 1.2 innings, and Tyler Smith got the final out in the 14th.

"We played hard all game, and it's a good way to send the seniors out," said Whiggum. "This was kind of like our bowl game like a college football team. We never played as good as we could against them. We finally stepped up and played like we're capable of playing.
"We knew the offense would pick us up," said Whiggum. "We knew had a good team and could pull through. We had key hits late in the game and made plays when it mattered."

GSW rallied three different times in the game. The Hurricanes were down 4-0 in the seventh when they put seven hits together to tie the game. Both teams scored a run in the 11th and Columbus State took a 7-5 lead in the 14th.

McCarthy, Daniel Stokes and Noble Coley all had two hits in the game while Daniel Lynn and Stanton each had triples.

The game lasted more than four hours, and McCarthy said they weren't going to go quietly.

"We were definitely tired, but after playing that long, we still wanted to win," he said. "Nobody wanted to give up."

Said Whiggum: "It was crazy. It felt like the seventh game of the World Series. After a long season, we finally came out on top with a win against a top 10 team in the nation. It's bittersweet."

Jonnie Geiger and C.J. Bressoud led the Cougars with three hits apiece. Bressoud drove in three runs while Thomas Morrison and Casey Cook each had two RBIs.

Saturday's first game saw Columbus State take a 3-0 lead after two innings and go on to a 9-1 win, clinching the 2008 Peach Belt Conference regular season championship.

Rex had the team's lone RBI to go with two hits; Francisco Gomez added two hits, including a double.

James Wilson (4-4) pitched 5.2 innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits in taking the loss.