Bobcats remain unbeaten in area play
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
PHIL CAMPBELL - It took a while for the Phil Campbell Bobcats to get their bats going on Monday.
While they waited, they found more creative ways to score runs.
The Bobcats stole eight bases, scored two runs on a sacrifice fly and another on a squeeze play, and took advantage of six Cherokee errors to build an 8-2 lead through five innings.
The bats finally came to life in the bottom of the sixth as Phil Campbell scored four runs on five hits to polish off a 12-2 victory over the Indians, the Bobcats' fourth win in a row and third in as many area games.
"We feel very fortunate to be 3-0 in the area," said Phil Campbell coach Michael Beck, whose team got six strong innings on the mound from junior righthander Randy Cochran. "There's still a long way to go, though. Colbert Heights has a good team, and Red Bay has a good team. And we've got another tough one with [Cherokee] on the road tomorrow."
The Bobcats (7-3, 3-0 Class 2A, Area 16) were scheduled to play at Cherokee on Tuesday, and they still have two-game series remaining with area foes Colbert Heights and Red Bay.
Phil Campbell struggled early on Monday against junk-balling lefthander Isaac Tensley , who struck out seven and allowed just four hits in four innings of work.
The Bobcats still managed to scratch out a 4-0 lead, thanks to aggressiveness on the base paths and some shoddy glovework by the Indians.
"When you're not hitting, you have to do something to score runs," Beck said. "Steal a base, bunt, hit and run. Play small ball. Whatever it takes."
Phil Campbell grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Griffin Harris reached on an error, stole second and third, and scored on a fly ball by Cochran that was dropped in the outfield.
The Bobcats added two more runs in the second inning. Aaron Voyles walked, stole second and scored on a double by Steven Lacey, who finished with three hits.
Lacey moved to third on an infield single by Todd Carter, who also had three hits, and came home on a groundout by Matt Thomas.
Harris was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the third. He stole second, took third on a throwing error and scored on an RBI single by Cochran to make it 4-0.
Cochran made the lead stand up. He repeatedly pitched out of trouble as Cherokee stranded two runners in the first, third and fourth innings.
"Randy pitched a good game today," Beck said. "He walked a couple of guys early, and it kind of looked like he was just lobbing it up there. I think he was trying to get his arm loose. Then he started throwing hard and throwing strikes. He did a good job of keeping the ball low in the zone and making them put it in play."
Whenever he found himself in a jam, Cochran said he relied on his control–and his defense.
"I just tried to stay calm and throw strikes," said Cochran, who finished with seven strikeouts while allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits and three walks. "I told myself that I've got a good defense behind me, and I do. It's nice to get a little run support, too. That helps a pitcher relax."
After Cherokee trimmed the lead to 4-2 with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, the Bobcats gave Cochran a little extra support with eight runs over the last two innings.
Eric Glasgow led off the fifth with an infield hit and moved to second on an errant pickoff throw. Harris was hit by a pitch, and Cochran reached on an infield hit to load the bases.
Glasgow scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-2, and Kevin Lacey followed with a towering fly ball to center field. Tensley made the catch before falling down and trying to flip the ball to a teammate for the relay throw.
Harris tagged and scored easily, and Cochran scored all the way from second when the ball got away to make it 7-2.
The Bobcats loaded the bases again on an error and singles by Steven Lacey and Carter, and Jonathan Dill pushed a perfectly-executed squeeze bunt down the first base line to score Aaron Voyles for an 8-2 lead.
Phil Campbell finished things off with four runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Glasgow started things with a single and a stolen base, and Harris stroked an RBI double to the gap in left-center to make it 9-2.
Harris was thrown out trying to stretch a triple, and Cochran grounded out.
The Bobcats mounted a two-out rally, getting three straight doubles from Kevin Lacey, Voyles and Steven Lacey to push the lead to 11-2. The final run scored on a wild pitch.
Steven Lacey finished 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI doubles and two runs scored. Carter was 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base.
Harris stole three bases and scored three runs, and Glasgow was 2-for-4 with a stolen base and two runs.
Voyles finished 1-for-2 with an RBI double, two steals and three runs scored.