MONTICELLO, Ga. — The Piedmont Cougars are two games away from their fifth straight Georgia Independent Schools Association state championship.
The Cougars punched their ticket to the championship series Friday when they defeated Southwest Georgia Academy in the GISA state semifinals 3-0 and 8-6. Though the Cougars steamrolled Crisp Academy in the second round the week before, they faced a much stiffer competition. Piedmont managed to take the series in two games thanks to a 3-0 win in game one, and an 8-6 victory in game two.
Piedmont faced much stiffer competition from SWGA than it did the previous week when it steamrolled Crisp Academy, but the Cougars still saw a masterful game one pitching performance from Sam Wright, who opened the first game up with a one-two-three inning.
The Cougars came up to the plate hoping to feed off of the momentum from Wright’s excellent first inning. Although they managed to get two runners on, thanks to a single from Cameron Mobley and a walk from Rob Allgood, they came up empty.
Things remained stagnant offensively for both teams until the bottom of the fourth when two walks preceded Chase Porter, who drove a ball into the right field corner for the game’s first run, putting Piedmont up 1-0.
Though the Cougars tacked on two more runs during the game — an RBI single from Rob Allgood and an RBI triple from Owen Brady — that first run was all they needed as Wright cruised through seven innings with seven strikeouts, one walk and only two hits allowed all day. “[He was] just dominant today,” head coach Wes Tanner said after the game, adding how vital his game one performance was to winning the series.”
“It helps,” Tanner said. “They’re not all going to be six inning affairs. The fact that we were able to grind out a tight one does nothing but help.”
Just as in game one, the Cougars were able to pull through another tough game in their 8-6 win in game two that clinched their finals appearance.
In that game, the Cougars got off to a quick start in game two as Allgood knocked in Tate Marks with a one out double. He then preceded to steal third, forcing a wild throw, allowing Allgood to score.
Up 2-0, Tate Marks took the mound for Piedmont. He found himself in some early trouble, and SGA managed to plate a run before Marks escaped the inning.
The second inning was quiet for both squads, but the Cougars managed to add two more runs to their lead. Catcher Caleb Coffey knocked in Zach Spivey with an RBI single. Brady then grounded out to third, for another RBI.
After the top of the third, an hour and forty-minute rain/lightning delay commenced, forcing both teams to the locker room.
The game returned finally, and Piedmont (19-6-1) escaped with the 8-6 win, granting it yet another trip to the GISA state title series Friday against Windsor at 4:30 p.m. at Mercer University, with game two scheduled for Saturday 10:30 a.m. with an if-game slated for a 4:30 p.m. first-pitch.
Tanner called Windsor a "very much improved team" than the one which Piedmont defeated twice in the regular season by a combined score of 19-5.