Better late than never
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
FLORENCE - Monday's action at the TimesDaily Classic ran a little behind schedule, and that was perfectly fine with Phil Campbell coach Michael Beck.
Thanks to the delay, three of Beck's key players returning home from their senior trip were able to arrive at UNA's University Field just in time for the Bobcats' game against Cherokee.
"Our seniors drove up about 10 minutes before the game," Beck said. "They had been in New York City since Thursday. We got them some quick work in the cage, and then it was time to get started."
Matt Thomas, Aaron Voyles and Eric Glasgow showed no ill effects from their travel, combining for five of Phil Campbell's 13 hits as the Bobcats defeated the Indians 11-6.
"Sherry Davis [a Phil Campbell teacher and trip chaperone] better be glad she got them back here in time," Beck said with a laugh after the Bobcats rallied from a 5-2 deficit to win their 10th game of the year. "We were talking with them on their cell phones as they were coming in, just hoping the game before ours wouldn't be a five-inning game. It was, but thankfully they were able to get here in time."
Thomas and Voyles each came through with key hits in Phil Campbell's four-run fourth inning.
After RBI singles by Kevin Lacey and Jonathan Dill cut Cherokee's lead to 5-4, Thomas drove in another run with an infield single to tie the game.
Voyles followed with an RBI single to center to give the Bobcats their first lead of the day.
The Indians tied the game 6-6 on an RBI double by Chris Brown in the top of the fifth, but Steven Lacey's two-run double in the bottom of the inning put Phil Campbell on top for good.
The win was the Bobcats' third over Cherokee in the past week.
"I'm glad we won't be playing those guys again any time soon," Beck said. "They keep improving every time we play them. The first time we beat them 12-2, then it was 9-7, and then today's game was really close. I'm impressed with the job that Coach [Richard] Phillips has done with them."
The Indians jumped out to a quick lead with three runs off Todd Carter in the top of the first inning.
Brown had a two-run double, and Matt Stanfield had an RBI groundout.
Thomas led off the bottom of the first with a single, stole second and scored on a long double by Griffin Harris.
Harris moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a grounder by Randy Cochran to make it 3-2.
Kade Smith's two-run triple in the third pushed Cherokee's lead back to three, but Carter found his groove and allowed just one unearned run and three hits over the final four innings.
"Todd left the ball up in the zone a little too much early, and they got five runs off him," Beck said. "But he settled down as the game went along. He kept throwing strikes. That's the thing about Todd. You're going to have to hit him to beat him, because he's not going to walk anybody."
True to form, Carter walked just one batter in a complete game, striking out seven. The senior righthander (who did not make the trip to New York) allowed six runs, five of them earned, on 10 hits.
After the early damage, Carter held the Indians in check and waited for the Bobcats to get their bats going.
"We ended up just having to out-hit them," Beck said. "Sometimes it happens like that. Our guys know that, unless Griffin or Randy are on the mound, we're going to have to hit the ball and score some runs. And they usually step up to the task."
With the game tied 6-6 in the bottom of the fifth, Kevin Lacey and Glasgow delivered back-to-back one-out singles. Steven Lacey followed with a one-hopper past the first baseman that scored both runners for an 8-6 lead.
Lacey moved to third on an error and scored on a squeeze bunt by Carter to make it 9-6.
The Bobcats added two insurance runs in the sixth when Cochran singled home Harris and later scored on an error.
Harris finished 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs, and Cochran was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and four stolen bases. Thomas was 2-for-3 with a pair of steals, and Kevin Lacey was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Voyles was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
In other action at the TimesDaily Classic:
Florence 8 Phil Campbell 2
Steven Lacey led the Bobcats with two hits in Monday's loss.
Randy Cochran (1-1) took the loss for Phil Campbell (10-4), pitching four innings.
Ty Maloney's two-out, three-run double in the bottom of the fifth broke open a close game for the Falcons (5-9).
Maloney (1-3) also earned the win, allowing seven hits and striking out four in a complete game.
Evan Radtke had an RBI triple, and Jacob Fowler added an RBI double for Florence.