CCS, CVA split and force game three

Both teams have been to the state championship game, now they’re trying to get back. Cornerstone will return to Coosa Valley Academy Thursday at 4 p.m. for a decisive game three of the AISA Class 1A semifinals, after the two teams split Wednesday.

“If I’m going to have to go three games with somebody, it might as well be them. They’re a good ball team,” Coosa Valley head coach Steven Mackin said.

Mackin’s Rebels rallied back in the bottom of the seventh inning in game one after blowing a 7-2 lead. Whit Lovelady hit a two-out single to score Gage Holmes and J.B. Ripley for the 9-8 win.

Cornerstone scored three runs in the sixth and three in the seventh to take the lead entering the Rebels’ final at bat.

“I tip my hat to them,” CCS head coach Tim Smith said. “In the first game it looked like they were dead, and then all of a sudden here they come again. They’re not going to quit. Tomorrow’s going to be a good one.”

Both teams came out flat to start the second game, but CVA took advantage of back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning by Justin Floyd and Ricky Ellison to take a 3-0 lead in the fourth.

Cornerstone cut the lead to 3-1 after the fourth and broke the game open with six runs in the fifth, including a three-run home run by Josh Dunnaway that gave the Chargers the lead. CVA was unable to bounce back, as Cornerstone forced a third game with a 8-4 win.

Trey Benson led the Chargers in the doubleheader, going 5-for-7 at the plate with four runs scored. Cory Woodall, Jacob Henderson and Lance Benton each had three hits in the doubleheader. Lance Benton went the distance for the game two win, pitching seven innings, striking out five. Phillip Neal took the loss for the Rebels.

Floyd and Ellison each led the Rebel’s offense with three hits, while Justin Chain and Garrett McMillan had two hits.

Cornerstone will face Chain on the mound in game three. Mackin chose not to start his ace Wednesday since the Chargers had seen him twice this year.

“It was a gamble, but I took a chance. I thought it might be better to get out here and win two without having to use him. Obviously it worked for one game, but it didn’t work for the second,” Mackin said.

Chain, who picked up the game one victory in relief, wants the ball and a chance to return to his second AISA state title series in three years.

“I’m just ready to jump on them. I think our team will come out ready and play defense. I hope nobody gets nervous and worries about it,” said Chain, who played third base on the 2007 state championship team. “There ain’t much to prepare for. We’ve worked all season for this. If we’re ready, we’re ready.”

J.B. Ripley and Gage Holmes both are available to pitch in relief Thursday.

Dunnaway started the first game Wednesday and has three innings of work left to be used Thursday, while Henderson can pitch four innings and Patrick Shaw can pitch seven. Dunnaway said the Chargers are ready for the challenge.

“We’re pretty pumped. They beat us three times, but we beat them last. We’re ready to get out there and just fight them to the end,” he said.

AISA CLASS 3A

Glenwood 9-7, Macon-East 2-5; Glenwood (36-9) advances

Monroe Acad. 12-10, Pike Liberal Arts 2-18; series tied 1-1, Game three 4:30 p.m. in Monroeville.

AISA CLASS 2A

Pickens Academy 1-2, Autauga Academy 0-3; Game three 3:30 p.m.

Marengo Academy 9-5, Edgewood Academy 8-14, series tied 1-1; Game three, 1 p.m. at Edgewood.

AISA CLASS 1A

Coosa Valley 9-4, Cornerstone 8-8; Game three 4 p.m. Thursday in Harpersville.

Abbeville Christian 12-2, Wilcox Academy 2-12; Game three 1 p.m., Thursday