March 11, 2009
MABEN -- West Lowndes High School baseball coach Todd Stanley had confidence in senior pitcher Clark McCollum on Tuesday night.
McCollum rewarded his coach for trusting him, scattering seven hits in a complete-game effort to lead West Lowndes to a 6-4 victory against East Webster.
"I''ve just got faith in everybody behind me and I know everybody''s got my back," said McCollum, who struck out eight and walked four. "That makes me able to throw strikes."
Even though three of the hits McCollum allowed were solo home runs, Stanley felt McCollum pitched well enough to remain in the game.
The tying run was at the plate in the seventh inning, but McCollum got Jermaine Liggins to ground out to end the game.
"There was no way I was taking him out unless his arm was hurting," Stanley said. "I told him it was his to win or lose."
Despite giving up one run in the second and fourth innings, McCollum struck out the side in both frames.
East Webster coach Wes Johnson said his team let McCollum off the hook when it should have been more patient.
"We didn''t swing at good pitches, but give West Lowndes a lot of credit because they played well," Johnson said.
The defensive play of the game came in the fifth with the bases loaded and West Lowndes leading 4-2. Ryan Stowers, the Panthers'' right fielder, ran down a drive by Tanner Roberson to end the inning.
Stowers struck out four times, but was able to come through with his glove.
"He''s just a sophomore and this is his first year to start," Stanley said. "He struggled at the plate, but I told him he has to block that out and play defense. He did."
West Lowndes (8-2, 3-0 Class A, Region 1) built a 2-0 lead in the second on solo homers by Arick Smith and Devin Malone.
After Roberson walked and scored for the Wolverines in the second, he allowed two walks that came around to score and extended the margin to 4-1.
East Webster''s Christopher Gordon hit solo home runs in the fourth and seventh and Jordan Mixon hit one out in the sixth, but McCollum never allowed the Wolverines to gain the advantage.
"East Webster is a first-class program, and we knew they were going to make a run," Stanley said. "They''ve got too many hitters in the lineup not to make a run, so I''m proud of my guys."
The Panthers did not make contact often against Roberson and Blake Love, but they made it count when they did.
Despite striking out 10 times against Roberson and six more times against Love, West Lowndes made the most of its six hits.
"With their pitching, they can be dominant and it gave us some confidence to come out early (with the home runs)," Stanley said.
Malone had a single to go with his home run, while D.Q. Farmer doubled and McCollum and Fredrico Moody singled.
Mixon had a home run, double, and single for East Webster (8-2, 1-1), Gordon had his two home runs, Love added a double and Roberson had a single.
"We left a bunch of runners left on and swung at a lot of bad pitches," Gordon said. "We helped the pitcher out too much. We''ve just got to come back to work and work hard and get ready for Calhoun City on Thursday and West Point on Saturday."
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