CHILLICOTHE — Throughout his four-year career at Minford High School, Eric Cook proved himself as one of the most reliable pitchers not only across the SOC realm, but all across the Southern Ohio landscape as well.
However, Monday evening’s performance by Cook in American Legion action could possibly go down as the finest pitching performance that the college freshman-to-be has ever had in the game of baseball.
The starting hand, who took the hill for Waverly Post 142 on a very warm summer night against a Chillicothe Post 62 squad that had taken two out of three from the Shockers in regular season play, made sure that Post 62 didn’t send Waverly to the consolation bracket on Monday evening as Cook’s eight-inning, complete-game five-hitter — which included 10 strikeouts — allowed Post 142 to roll to a 12-2 mercy-rule victory over the Riverbats as the first day of American Legion Region V Tournament action came to a close at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe.
For Post 142 head coach Jonathan Teeters, the most valuable player choice, even after a 13-hit offensive performance that proved to be the primary cause toward the 12-run outburst, was a simple one.
“Tonight, the VA was Cookie’s house,” Teeters said. “He absolutely stepped up as a leader and got the job done for us. His stuff was electric and I am very proud of Eric.”
After a scoreless first inning from both ballclubs, Post 62 actually struck with the opening salvo in the second inning as a single and a stolen base from Cam Farley allowed the standout underclassman to score after a valiant attempt to turn two at third base went wide of the bag.
However, from the second inning on forward, the contest proved to be all about the Shockers and their energy level in all phases of the contest.
After Scioto County product Tanner Cunningham reached via a walk, Cunningham was able to advance on a groundout and a passed ball, and, after a walk and a stolen base by Braden Simms, scored on an RBI base knock from fellow Scioto County hand Luke Lindamood to tie the score.
But the Shockers, however, weren’t finished. With Simms at third, Logan Kottenbrook, who has been on a second-half tear from his leadoff position, continued his hot spell on Monday evening by launching another base knock to left as Post 142 took a 2-1 lead after two full innings of play.
With Cook already pitching strong even before Waverly took the lead in the bottom half of the second, Post 62’s efforts were deemed moot by an outstanding performance from the Minford graduate, who only allowed two hits through his first six innings of work and faced the minimum in the fourth, fifth, and sixth frames while also striking out seven Riverbats through his first six innings on the hill.
Cook’s ability to roll through the Post 62 lineup gave his fellow teammates an opportunity to put the game out of reach, and in the third, fourth, and fifth frames, Waverly did exactly that.
After Oak Hill’s Shane Spriggs singled and stole a base, Wheelersburg’s Xander Carmichael followed Spriggs’ base knock up with a shot that traveled nearly 350 feet to dead center before dropping for a base hit as Spriggs scored easily on Carmichael’s triple to increase the Waverly lead to a 3-1 margin.
But it was the fourth inning, however, when Post 142 really showed off its presence. After a three-up, three-down inning from Cook on the mound, Garrett Moore’s leadoff single and stolen base opened the floodgates for Carmichael, Spriggs, and Ian Gillen, who obtained back-to-back-to-back base knocks after Moore’s leadoff hit to push the lead to 7-1 by the conclusion of the fourth frame. Then, after Simms’ double to right field in the fifth frame, Lindamood recycled his second runner of the contest by driving in Simms to push the lead to an 8-1 tally.
“Offensively, we really had a good approach at the plate,” Teeters said. “Shane (Spriggs) and Xander (Carmichael) really came through for us in the middle of our order.”
With Cook continuing to command all corners of the plate, and the Shockers rolling on all cylinders offensively, it was of surprise to no one to see the contest threaten mercy-rule territory.
After Post 62 added a run in the seventh on a Keyan Cottrill single to cut the gap slightly to an 8-2 margin, Post 142 scored four runs to officially ice the game in the eighth as a single and a stolen base by Kottenbrook, a RBI single to right field by Gillen, a RBI triple to right center field by Spriggs, a walk by Carmichael, and an error that scored a pair of runs allowed Waverly to walk off in grand fashion.
With the victory, Waverly is one of only two programs remaining in the winner’s bracket. They’ll play Circleville Post 134, and, with a win on Tuesday, will only need one additional victory to win the Region V Championship.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7