Luella advances to Elite 8

By Tommy Camp

Special to the Daily

SHARPSBURG - It couldn't have been much more frustrating for the East Coweta Indians than it was here Thursday in the third and deciding game of their second round state playoff series with Luella.

"It really came together for us," said Luella head coach Andy Cooper. "We have never been this far, and our seniors really wanted this."

Luella now moves on to play at Lassiter next week.

EC managed just one hit, had only two baserunners all game long and made two costly first-inning errors that allowed Luella to score the only run the Lions would need to eventually come away 2-0 winners.

Luella managed just three hits off tough-luck loser Kevin Werner, two of which were of the bloop variety, but pitched and played defense flawlessly.

John Cal Massengale made two errors in the first inning, the second allowing Chase Scott to score from second on a two-out grounder off the bat of Eric Pape which bounced off Massengale and rolled into foul territory down the third base line.

Werner, who had retired 10 straight batters from the first through the fourth inning before Darius Jennings led off the fifth with a Texas League double to center for the Lions' first hit, worked out of a major jam in the inning when he escaped a runners on second and third and no out situation with a strikeout and two ground balls to shortstop Felton James.

But Luella picked up a huge insurance run in the sixth.

Chase Scott led off with a double to left and was sacrificed to third. Werner got Pape to pop to second and DeLoach lifted him in favor of lefthander Morgan Pittman to face the lefthanded hitting Vincent Jackson with two out.

But Pittman hit the Lions' right fielder on a 2-2 pitch and Darius Jennings followed with a bloop pop to left that fell in for a hit, scoring Scott easily.

Offensively, the Indians never really threatened.

Luella righthander Julius Gaines, who pitched out of the stretch all game long, gave up a single to Taylor Cato leading off the second inning, but that was it.

Designated hitter Brandon Billups walked with two out in the fifth and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but was stranded.

The Indians went quietly in the sixth and seventh innings, Felton James' long drive to center leading off the seventh being the only ball that left the infield.

Luella was exceptional on defense.

The Lions made at least four plays that robbed Indian batters of hits, one each by third baseman Scott, shortstop Cody Powell, first baseman Ryan March and centerfielder Montavious Williams who ran down James' shot in the seventh when the Indians were desperately looking for a spark.

"It was a tough way to end the season," DeLoach said. "I hate it especially for our 12 seniors. They've been an outstanding group and we'll miss them immensely."