Chargers edged in seventh

Published 2:49 pm Friday, May 8, 2009

Cornerstone Christian scrapped and battled in the final two games of the AISA Class 1A baseball championship series at Paterson Field, but was unable to overcome one last time Friday, as a pair of doubles in the bottom of the seventh gave Abbeville Christian a 7-6 victory.

Trailing 6-5 in the top of the seventh, Cornerstone infielder Trey Benson ripped a one-out double to right-centerfield. Senior Josh Dunnaway followed with a two-out double to left to tie the game.

“I knew this was probably going to be my last at bat of high school baseball. If we were going to win, I needed to get a hit. It just wasn’t enough,” Dunnaway said.

After Dunnaway stole third, he was left stranded as Poke Reece was caught looking on a low third strike.

Tournament MVP Dillon Wilson struck out two batters in the top of the seventh to end a CCS rally and then drove in Chip White to clinch the win for Abbeville.

“I give all the credit to Abbeville. It’s a good baseball team with a lot of class,” Cornerstone Christian head coach Tim Smith said.

ACA (23-9-1) scored a run in the top of bottom of the first, but the Chargers answered with four in the third. Patrick Shaw pushed the first run across with a bases-loaded walk, followed by an error that put starting pitcher Jacob Henderson on base and scored two. Reece drove in the other with a base hit. Despite taking the 4-1 lead in the third, CCS (26-6) lacked offense Friday and throughout the series, collecting six hits in each game.

“You can’t win a championship like that,” Smith said.

His players agree.

“We played hard, we just couldn’t get our bats flowing a couple of innings, and when we did, we couldn’t keep them going long enough,” Dunnaway said.

“We didn’t hit this series as well as we should have. We hit harder pitchers against Coosa Valley, but it doesn’t matter, we lost,” Shaw said.

Shaw led the Chargers in on base percentage in the series, despite a 1-for-5 performance at the plate, as he drew six walks. He was followed closely by centerfielder Cory Woodall, who was 3-for-6 with two walks as the nine-hole hitter.

Shaw, Woodall and Dunnaway were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Abbeville came back with a five-run fourth to take a 6-4 lead and CCS added a run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Henderson, as Lance Benton beat a play at the plate.

No Charger player had multiple hits, while Abbeville collected two hits each from White, Wilson and Gabe Newman. Benton took the loss in relief, while Wilson picked up the win.

Cornerstone dropped the first game of the series Tuesday, 14-4, but rallied on Wednesday to win, 5-3, as Dunnaway pitched a complete game.

Dunnaway was glad his team made it to the state title game to close out his high school career, Cornerstone’s second runner-up finish in the school’s nine-year history.

“At the beginning of the year our goal was to get to the state championship. We worked hard all year and we went out and practiced every day. Coaches never let us take a day off, and we went out there with high intensity and full effort every day,” Dunnaway said. “It paid off for us. We got all the way here.”

Smith said he is thankful for God bringing his team together through the season.

“They’ve been a great group to coach,” Smith said. “It’s been fun to watch how God brought us all together. This is a different little group here, but he brought us all together. We’ll be back to fight another day.”

The Chargers lose only two seniors and are expected to return 15 of their 17 players next season.