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Cooter defeats Chaffee 4-2 in sectional
CHAFFEE, Mo. -- Cooter's Zach Watkins tried to do what all players do when they get the pitch they want -- make solid contact and drive it as far as possible.
He did both.
"He threw it right down the middle," Watkins said. "I tried to hit it hard and make good contact with it.
"It just went out."
The junior hammered a pitch over the 20-foot fence in center field in the fifth inning in Tuesday's Class 1 sectional game.
Watkins' solo home run was the go-ahead and eventual winning run in Cooter's 4-2 victory over Chaffee. It also was the first of two Cooter home runs.
"We knew they were a team all season long that could swing the bats," Chaffee coach Brian Horrell said. "People talk about the size of the ballpark they play on but, you know, a home run is a home run.
"They showed that if you're capable of home runs, you can hit them anywhere."
Cooter senior Logan Edwards hit the second long ball in the sixth inning, giving the Wildcats a two-run lead.
Cooter scored its first two runs in the first inning. Watkins tripled home a run and later scored on a groundout by Jonathan Boone.
"These kids stay back and see the ball real well and get good cuts," Cooter coach Allen Crawford said. "That's what you want, just to put a good swing on it. They're big, strong, physical kids.
"Pitching and defense is how you win games, but every once in a while you've got to get a couple of timely hits."
Chaffee's timely hits never arrived.
Although they battled back to tie the game at 2-2, the Red Devils stranded 11 runners, including the bases loaded in the top of the fourth.
"We had opportunities to score some runs," Horrell said. "We hit the ball, but we just couldn't get the big hit with runners in scoring position. Ultimately that got us."
Watkins also moved to the mound and obtained the final nine outs of the game.
Watkins inherited two runners from Jordan Anderson in the top of the fifth. A 4-6-3 double play erased one of those inherited runners, but an RBI double by Chaffee's Andrew Terhune tied the game at 2-2.
"I just had to stay calm and keep breathing," Watkins said. "I tried not to get nervous and throw strikes and hope the defense makes the plays."
Chaffee's Jared Walker and Trevor Cannon worked consecutive walks to begin the bottom of the seventh. A groundout by Alex Davie advanced both runners.
Watkins answered with back-to-back strikeouts to end the game as well as the Red Devils' season.
Chaffee's Andrew Dooley worked all six innings and took the loss. He gave up five hits, walked three, struck out seven and allowed four earned runs.
"I thought Dooley threw it well," Horrell said. "He struggled sometimes at the beginning of innings with leadoff walks that come back to hurt him. But he settled in and battled.
"He's our best, and I thought he threw well enough."
Chaffee outhit the Wildcats seven to five. Daniel Dooley and Terhune both went 2 for 3, including a double.
The Red Devils finish with a 14-9 record, which included a dramatic district championship win over No. 1 seed Bernie. Chaffee will lose just one senior -- Josh Hendrix.
"As any young ballclub will do, we had our ups and downs this season," Horrell said. "We got hot late and we played very well. We had great pitching and great defense and timely hitting."
Cooter (21-6) will visit Oak Ridge at 4 p.m. today in a Class 1 quarterfinal.
WP -- Zach Watkins. LP -- Andrew Dooley. Multiple hitters -- (CH) Daniel Dooley 2-3, Andrew Terhune 2-3; (C) Watkins 2-3. 2B -- (CH) Trevor Cannon, D. Dooley, Terhune, Nathan Cicardi. 3B -- (C) Watkins. HR -- (C) Watkins, Logan Edwards.