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April 2, 2014

PREP BASEBALL: Loggins, Hanceville bounce Good Hope 10-0

HANCEVILLE — Despite clinching its area series versus Good Hope on Tuesday, Hanceville’s baseball squad wasn’t about to let up against the Raiders at home the following afternoon.

Hayden Loggins tossed a three-hitter, he and his teammates continued to swing hot bats, and the Bulldogs blanked the Red and White 10-0 on Wednesday to improve to 20-7 on the year and secure a 2-1 area record thus far on the season.

“Sweeping them in the area was big,” coach Michael Chandler said after the win. “Our defense played well, and Hayden really pitched well. On offense, we did not strike out once. That was huge for us.”

Both teams started out a bit sluggish, but it didn’t take too long for the Purple and Gold to put a few runs on the board.

Alex Armstrong and Isaac Weissend each drew one-out walks in the bottom of the third before an Austin Coker single loaded the bases for catcher Isaac Hardin.

Hardin roped a hard two-run single, which also brought home Coker thanks to an error from Good Hope’s centerfielder. From there, Loggins followed with a hit before four straight Bulldogs drew walks from the Raiders’ pitching staff. After a pair of runs scored on wild pitches, Weissend delivered a two-out, two-run single to extend the Purple and Gold’s lead to 9-0 entering the top of the fourth inning.

“We had good at-bats,” Chandler said. “We kind of switched our focus to being a little less aggressive because we were getting a bit too wild at times. It’s a good time for everybody to start hitting well, though."

Good Hope threatened in its next frame — drawing a couple of walks to start — but Loggins induced a double-play ball and finished off the threat with a strikeout to keep the Raiders scoreless.

“I knew I just needed to throw strikes,” Loggins said. “My D is always going to have my back out there.”

Loggins had two hits to lead all players, while Coker, Keith Twitty, Hardin and Weissend each had one. The latter two drove in two runs apiece in the win. Twitty scored two runs, Christian James had two stolen bases and Dant’e Reese grabbed an RBI.

Mason Johnson, A.J. Peeples and Warren Creel all had singles for Good Hope.

Hanceville’s Wednesday win came a whole lot easier than the one it eased by with on Tuesday night. Following a 9-0 victory in Game 1, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing 7-0 in just a matter of a few innings.

However, the Purple and Gold slowly chipped away at the Red and White’s cushion — eventually tying it at 9-9 after the sixth inning — while Hardin pitched six innings on one-hit ball — after the Raiders had nine hits in the first five — to give the Bulldogs a chance heading into the 11th.

Loggins led off with a double and was then brough home on a Reese single up the middle to seal the game for Hanceville and make Wednesday’s contest a whole lot more fun.

“It was way easier out there for me,” Loggins said. “We were all relaxed but still focused.”

Added Chandler: “I’m proud of those guys for last night. Not only did we battle back, we made their ace (Nathan Doss) use a lot of pitches. If we had laid down and died, he would’ve had a chance today and who knows what could’ve happened then.”

With the victories, the Bulldogs have now earned two of their preseason goals — a county championship and 20 wins. But its hopes and dreams don’t stop there. They still want that elusive area title, as well as the school’s first playoff appearance since the 2005 season.

“We just want to keep working hard,” said Chandler, whose team can clinch a postseason berth with a Vinemont loss to Danville on Thursday. “That’s all we can do.”

Added Loggins: “We’re a family. We look after each other and always fight to the end. This isn’t the end for us.”

% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at jwinfrey@cullmantimes.com.

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