Manila Lions headed to state

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Manila used the long ball and a strong pitching performance from Tray Malone to pound out an 11-1 victory over Mountain View in Saturday afternoon's first round action of the Class 3A Regional Tournament at Tuckerman.

Mt. View's James Cartwright readies for pickoff attempt as Manila pinch runner Dillon Burrow dives safely back to first base in Saturday afternoon's regional tournament game at Tuckerman. (Town Crier photo/Trent Fletcher)

Manila's five inning run-ruled victory punched the Lion's ticket to next week's state tournament at Parkers Chapel High School in El Dorado, beginning Friday afternoon.

"We are very excited about going back to the state tournament," said Lion coach Steve Milligan. "We lost a tough 1-0 game in the first round last year, and had a really bad draw. Hopefully, this year we will be in a friendlier bracket. We are really looking forward to the opportunity to go further in the tournament this year. If we can keep hitting the ball and continue to get good pitching, we will have a chance to go deep in the tournament."

Manila scored three runs in the second inning. Kyle Evans got things started with a lead off walk and stole second. Mt. View starting pitcher Cody Steele plucked Zach Birmingham with a pitch to put two runners on, and the Lions got their first run of the game on a base hit off the bat of Jacob Britt. Frankie Cowgill, who went 4-4 on the day including two doubles and a homerun, laced a two-run single to put the Lions up 3-0.

Mt. View cut the Lion lead to 3-1 with a run in the top of the third on an RBI groundout by Ethan Gammill.

Manila answered quickly in their half of the third when Hunter Bryan drilled a lead-off home run over the left field fence, giving the Lions a 4-1 lead.

After winning pitcher Tray Malone struck out the side in the fourth, Malone helped his own cause in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single, pushing the Lion lead to 5-1. Kyle Evans drove in another run with an infield single, and Luke McLaughlin capped off the three run inning with an opposite field RBI double, giving Manila a 7-1 lead.

The Lions put the game away in the fifth inning, scoring four times. Tracey Reinhart led off the inning with a ringing double in the left centerfield gap, and rode home on Cowgill's towering two-run bomb over the right field fence. Michael Shedd and Hunter Bryan had back to back singles, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Mt. View elected to intentionally walk Malone to load the bases, but the strategy backfired when Evans rapped a two-run single, giving Manila the 11-1 victory.

Cowgill capped off his perfect day at the plate with four RBIs while leading Manila's 15-hit attack. Evans finished with a pair of hits, two RBIs and two runs scored. Bryan was 2-4 with a home run and an RBI. Shedd and Malone had a pair of hits apiece while McLaughlin, Reinhart and Britt also added base knocks.

Malone went the distance on the mound, striking out 10 without a walk. The junior right-hander allowed just two hits and one run.

Manila improves their record to 16-2 on the season.

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