Coosa Valley clinches berth in championship series with sweep of Cornerstone

Coosa Valley Academy coach Bobby Hughes didn’t panic when the visiting Cornerstone Christian School Chargers took a 4-0 lead in the first inning of the second game of a doubleheader in the semifinals of the Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 1A baseball playoffs April 28.

He simply made a call to the bullpen for Daniel Kennedy to come to the mound.

The move turned out to be a good call as Kennedy shut down the Cornerstone lineup over the final six innings. The Coosa Valley bats rallied to seal a 13-5 win, following a 6-2 win in the opener, and the Rebels made preparations for a trip the AISA Class 1A championship series next week in Montgomery.

Coosa Valley, which won an AISA Class 1A title in 2007 in its last appearance in the finals, will face Wilcox Academy in the championship series beginning Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Paterson Field.

Kennedy struck out seven batters with only one walk and allowed only one earned run on seven hits to help the Rebels (35-9) advance.

“That was probably the biggest part of the game,” Hughes said. “Daniel stepped it up.”

Gage Holmes led Coosa Valley at the plate as he went 4-for-4 and drove in four runs, including a two-run homer. The Rebels, who capped an undefeated season at home with the win over the Chargers, racked up 13 hits in the second game.

“We’re throwing strikes and swinging the bat,” Hughes said. “We’re playing really well right now.”

Hughes said a 10-0 loss to Cornerstone in early April was a wake-up call for the Rebels, who have won 13 straight games since the loss.

“After that loss, the next day we had an ‘Army Day,’” Hughes said. “We did a lot of running. We really stepped it up after that.”

Jacob Henderson led Cornerstone (15-8) at the plate in the second game as he went 3-for-4 and scored twice.

Jarrod Mims scattered six hits over seven innings with six strikeouts and five walks as he held the Chargers in check in the Rebels’ 6-2 win over Cornerstone in the opening game of the series.

Mims also went 2-for-4 at the plate with two singles.

Phillip Neal finished 1-for-3 and drove in two runs. Justin Floyd had an RBI triple and scored a run.

John and Will Bullen finished with a hit each.

Auston Wingard led the Chargers at the plate as he finished 2-for-3.

Jacob Henderson went 1-for-3 and drove in a run. Chase Payne and Colton Wingard finished with one hit each.

Lance Benton took the loss after giving up four earned runs on seven hits in six innings.

Cornerstone coach Tim Smith said the Chargers’ senior class raised the program to another level by making it back to the semifinals after playing in the Class 1A championship series in 2009.

“Our seven seniors got our program back on the map,” Smith said. “They did a great job leading us. We lost to a great team in Coosa Valley and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”