Amory Panthers advance to 4A title series

By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal

AMORY – Will Cox has been mentioned a lot during Amory’s 2010 playoff run. For the fifth straight time, his name is mentioned with a playoff win, Friday night’s a 2-0 win to sweep Lewisburg (26-8) and earn the Panthers (27-5) a trip to the Class 4A state championship series.
Cox (14-0) struck out seven and used a continuously-solid defense to escape his share of jams and Amory manufactured the only two runs it would need.
The crowd was overflowing and loud and so was Amory’s dugout, a typically loud dugout that found new levels with so much on the line, chants, backward hats and superstitions included.
“I know we look like a bunch of idiots, a bunch of crazy people over here,” said Amory coach Chad Williams, “but every one of those guys knows the count. Ever y one of them knows where somebody hit it the time before.”
Now they all know where the next stop is: Trustmark Park in Pearl for the Class 4A state championship series in two weeks. Amory will face St. Stanislaus in the May 25-29 tournament.
It’s Amory’s first trip to state since 2003, a home-and-away sweep at the hands of Greene County. Amory’s last title came in 3A in 1999.
“This is incredible,” Cox said. “I just throw and let me defense work behind me. They did a great job. The fans were great. Maybe they’ll all follow us to Jackson.”
With runners on first and third base in the third, Cox struck out opposing starter Aaron Greenwood, the first of six strikeouts.
In the fourth, the junior fanned Tanner Densford with the bases loaded and Amory took advantage. In the bottom of the inning, Cox reached on Lewisburg’s only error of the game on an attempted double play grounder. With Drew Pickle at the plate, courtesy runner Dalton Conwill took third base when frustrated Patriots catcher Dalton Todd fired a throwback to centerfield. Pickle’s groundout to first scored Conwill.
“They tried to put a lot of pressure on us with the stealing and stuff like that, but we took advantage of their mistakes and sort of played their ball and won the ballgame,” Williams said.
In the sixth, Amory added an insurance run when Hayden Williams scored on John Randle’s two-out infield single. Williams ran for senior Justin Rone, who was hit by his 18th pitch of the year. He moved to third on a double from Cox.
In the seventh, Chase McDaniel singled to lead off the inning, but Cox struck out Densford for the third time, then got a double play ball to second baseman Ryan Hill to end it.
“They capitalized when we made mistakes and we couldn’t get the big hit,” Lewisburg coach Rusty Cagle said. “They’re a great team and they beat us.”
Greenwood (6-2) struck out eight in the complete game loss.