|Wildcats make it six in a row|
|Written by News Desk|
|Wednesday, 21 May 2014 16:06|
By ART PARKER
It wasn't easy. And, it took a long time. But the Edgewood Academy baseball team won a sixth straight state championship last week by defeating the Marengo Academy Longhorns in two games at Paterson Field. The Wildcats won the first game 3-2 and then in a complete contrast won the second game 18-8.
The first game seemed like a National League game between the two worst hitting teams in baseball. The last game was like going to a Yankees – Red Sox double-header. The first game took one hour, 40 minutes. The last game went on forever and finally stopped after a marathon three hours and 15 minutes.
The easy part wasn't there for the Wildcats. Winning the first game by only one run and then winning the second game by a football score, and giving up 8 runs, is uncharacteristic of Edgewood. The Wildcats ended the season at 40-5 and walked away with the big trophy, but it wasn't quite the Wildcats of old. On the other hand, could Coach Bobby Carr ever have several teams like he had the past few years with starting pitching that was un-hittable. No, he couldn't because no coach can put together a constant string of unbeatable teams and un-hittable pitchers.
Edgewood's Taylor Hawthorne stopped Marengo cold in relief in both games of the Championship series.
Photo: Art Parker
But when one turns the page to see the last caveat they see the only thing that counts. The 2014 team was just like all of the others because they won. They did what they had to do. "I've always said the best teams, the championship teams, find a way to win, and they do so regardless of their talent level. That's true in any sport, anywhere," Carr explained.
And that 'whatever it takes mentality' was proven, indelibly, for the 2014 team in the top of the third inning of the second game against Marengo.
It looked like Marengo had found the Achilles heel of the Wildcats. It looked like they had broken the unbreakable, when in the top bottom of the second inning, trailing by 3 runs, the Longhorns unleashed a furious attack and sent 13 men to the plate. The Longhorns scored 7 runs and it could have been more because they left the bases loaded when the side was finally retired. Carr started to pick players to pitch like he was picking tomatoes from a healthy vine in July. Nothing was working.
He finally put the ball in the hand of Jackson Tate, a freshmen. For a few pitches Tate was shaky but then started doing what had to be done. Edgewood got out of the jam and prepared to come to bat in the top of the third. It was immediate retaliation. It was letting the opponent know who was boss. The Wildcats returned the favor and sent 12 men to the plate and like Marengo, scored 7 runs. Approximately half the game time was consumed in one full inning of baseball between the bottom of the second and the top of the third innings. When Edgewood was finished with their massive counter punch the score was back to the liking of the Wildcats at 10-7, and, Marengo's heart was shattered. In that one half inning of baseball another championship Edgewood team did what the others did. They won the battle.
Edgewood's Jolan Stieringer delivered the winning hit for the Wildcats in game one of the Championship series.
Photo: Art Parker
Tate did a good job at holding off Marengo, long enough to get the big redhead in the game, Taylor Hawthorne. Like the first game, Hawthorne left his shortstop position, went to the mound and completely put a stop to any potential Marengo foolishness that could possibly come about. In the two games Hawthorne pitched, both in relief, for a total of 5 full innings, he surrendered only one hit and fanned a half dozen Longhorns. Hawthorne, the undisputed team leader who was named the tournament MVP, rarely got to swing the bat. He was walked 5 times during the day with 4 of those walks being intentional. Hawthorne leaves Edgewood with 5 championship baseball rings and 4 football championship rings. "It's bitter sweet. It's over and it has been a lot of fun. I wouldn't take anything for these years. I've been blessed to have it all," the senior said.
Three other Wildcats made the All-Tournament team: Jolan Stieringer, W.B. Hill and Tate. Stieringer delivered the big hit that brought home 2 runs in the first game to give the Wildcats a winning margin. In the first game, the Wildcats also scored all of their runs in the inning after Marengo took the lead to make both wins come from behind victories. "This team has had to come from behind several times this year and I think those experiences always make you stronger. Those experiences help you to cope with adversity and help you to overcome it. For this bunch to overcome a deficit twice in the same day, and when our pitching was not quite up to par, shows what character they are made of," Carr said. "This was a different season and we have some younger players. They had to work harder than other teams to get here and win. This team deserved to win because they worked hard to earn it."
Edgewood's junior catcher Keith Johnson was asked about next year. Johnson only said, "We will go back to work with the same goal. That's what we do here."
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