By Derrick Mahone
After his team cruised to an 18-0 win over Bradwell Institute in the first game of its best-of-three Class AAAAA playoff series Friday, Luella coach Andy Cooper got a little worried.
The coach kept wondering if his team had used up all its runs in the first game.
Luella would cruise to a 16-1 victory in the second game to sweep the series and advance to the second round.
"We swung the bats well," Cooper said. "After that first game, I was hoping we would have some runs left. Our offense was really on. When you are dealing with high school kids, you don't know how they will respond. They stayed focused and finished strong."
The Lions (21-7) stayed strong throughout the two games. Sophomore Chase Scott powered the offense with a home run in each game to extend his hitting streak to 25 straight games.
For the two-game series with Bradwell, he was 4 of 6 with two home runs and seven runs scored.
"He is on fire," Cooper said of his sophomore outfielder.
"I've just been swinging the bat well," said Scott, one of the top hitters in the Southern Crescent area. "I've been seeing the ball real well."
Scott wasn't alone on his assault of the Bradwell pitching staff. In the Lions first game victory, which was halted in the third inning because of the mercy rule, every player had at least one hit and scored a run.
During the series, Luella produced 34 runs on 31 hits and left only five runners on base.
The Lions jumped to a 13-0 lead in the bottom of the first on 13 hits and never looked back.
"It was sort of shocking," Scott said. "We thought they would be better than what they showed.
We were definitely pumped and excited about the playoffs. You can never take anything for granted in the playoffs."
Sophomore Kendall Hill won the first game after giving up only one hit and striking out seven in three innings.
He retired the first seven batters he faced, six on strikeouts.
A single by Bradwell's shortstop Mitch Rogers in the third was the only hit for the Tigers, who only other base runner was Zach Hawkins, who was hit by a pitch in the same inning.
"When you have a big lead, you can be more relaxed up there," Hill said. "It is not as stressful.
You don't have your teammates as mad at you when you have a big lead to play with. If you give up a walk or something, it won't mess you up."
Sophomore Vincent Jackson started the second game and allowed only one run on four hits with six strikeouts in four innings. Matt Kelly, a sophomore, pitched the finally inning and had a strikeout and walk.
Hill threw only 58 pitches and Jackson had 70 pitches, but both should be fresh and well rested for the second round, which begins Wednesday at East Coweta, the Region 4-AAAAA champion.
"Hopefully we will continue to build on what we've been doing," Cooper said. "I'm hopeful that this game has given us some confidence. Our pitchers got some work in, and they shouldn't be tired."