While Commerce didn’t face its opponents’ aces last week, the Tigers still hit the ball to the tune of 25 runs in two games.
Coach Steve Cotrell hopes his team is gaining confidence in its bats.
“Baseball, you’ve got to have confidence,” he said. “You can be skilled all you want. If you don’t have that confidence, you can struggle at times … I’m just hoping we don’t get too confident. I’m hoping we can ride that fine line of to where we have that confidence but we also keep working hard, too.”
The Tigers (3-2), ranked No. 7 in Class A-Public, defeated then-Class AA No. 8-ranked Banks County 10-9 last Tuesday (Feb. 23) at home on senior night and then blitzing region opponent Lincoln County 15-0 Thursday (Feb. 25) on the road.
In last Tuesday’s win over the Leopards, Commerce built a 9-4 lead after four innings and held on for the win. Tyler Herring went (2-for-4, double) and Colin Welch (1-for-2) drove in three runs each. Gray Holbrook drove in two runs. Kane Goldman (1-for-3) hit a solo home run.
Welch threw the first four innings, and Matthew Martin worked the final three frames.
Commerce was coming off a 10-0 loss to Jefferson Feb. 20
“We played much better against Banks,” Cotrell said. “They are a very good team. Of course, we didn’t see their No. 1 or No. 2 (starting pitchers) on the mound. People don’t understand that that’s the equalizer. At the same time, we did some of the little things better that we didn’t do against Jefferson.”
Cotrell said his team needs to close out games better, though.
“We were able to hold them off,” Cotrell said. “The one thing we’ve got to work on and get better at is when you’ve got a 10-5 lead, you’ve got to finish the game. You’ve got to play first pitch to last pitch.”
All Tiger players wore No. 8 during the game in honor of Evan Davis, a Commerce baseball player passed away in an automobile accident in July. Davis would have a been a senior this season.
“You know it’s going to be emotional and to find a way to win, and Evan’s parents being there — and even Banks County wearing warm-up jerseys that had No. 8 on the back, that was just first-class on their part,” Cotrell said.
Following the emotional win, Commerce piled 14 runs on Red Devils in the second inning Thursday en route to a three-inning run-rule win. Lincoln County was missing eight players between COVID-19 quarantine and basketball participation, forcing some young Red Devil pitchers into service.
“It was one of those things where those young guys, they got fed to the wolves,” Cotrell said. “The pitchers struggled throwing strikes, and we just took advantage of it. We didn’t have bad at-bats at the plate, so once we got rolling they really didn’t have an answer for us.”
Corey Freeman drove in five runs, going 2-for-2 with a home run. Martin and Holbrook each went 2-for-2 with an RBI. Martin also doubled. Will Slater went 1-for-2 with a double two RBIs. The Tigers finished with 11 hits.
“We swung the bat better; we had better at bats once we got going,” Cotrell said.
Nate Rainey limited Lincoln County to one hit in three shutout frames, striking out six.
“Nate Rainey did what we asked him to do,” Cotrell said. “He needed some varsity innings. We need some more guys to get experience on the mound.”
Cotrell noted that Rainey threw 27 of his 35 pitches for strikes.
The Tigers were set to return to action Tuesday (March 2, 5:30 p.m.) at Class AA No. 10-ranked Elbert County before a Wednesday (March 3, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.) home doubleheader with Lincoln County.