Edwards&8217; single in fifth lifts Cathedral to win, South State

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; The two-run single from Preston Edwards was the key hit that put the Cathedral Green Wave ahead for good in the fifth inning.

But for those who have been around the team since the start of the season, it may have cemented the fact that something has happened with that bunch since the end of the season. It&8217;s not just the middle of the lineup doing the damage &8212; Alex Middleton had a key hit, and Jerad Burkhardt came off the bench with a sacrifice bunt.

All were key reasons why the Green Wave came away with a 6-4 win over Lake to take the series and advance to the Class 1A South State championship starting Saturday back at Chester Willis Field.

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And for those who saw this team back in late February, who would have predicted it?

&8220;You never know what you&8217;re going to get out of teenagers nowadays,&8221; CHS head coach Craig Beesley said. &8220;I don&8217;t know what it is, but this team has a lot of chemistry. That&8217;s not something a coach does &8212; it&8217;s the kids coming together. They&8217;ve always come through the last three or four weeks.

&8220;I credit the seniors and the seniors who don&8217;t get to play a lot as being good leaders for us. I&8217;d never thought we&8217;d be in this situation when the season started, but they&8217;ve really done it.&8221;

The win clinched a spot at South State for the third time in five years The win clinched a spot at South State for the third time in five years and first time since that state championship season in 2004. The Wave will meet up with East Webster, who swept Stringer in the other semifinal series.

The Wave did it with small ball, the key hits with runners on base, defense and solid pitching again from left-hander Patrick McDonough.

&8220;It was tough,&8221; said McDonough, who pitched in all three games. &8220;Everybody came to play yesterday, but we had a bunch of mental mistakes. We didn&8217;t hit the ball very well. We came out ready to play this game and the first game and focused on the game. I thought I&8217;d be a little tired today. I don&8217;t know if it was adrenaline or what, but I felt good.&8221;

The biggest contribution may have been from Edwards, who came up with the bases loaded in the sixth and was the first batter to face Lake ace left-hander Jason Judge. Edwards got behind in the count before slapping a single that scored Braxton Fondren and Alex Middleton to break a 4-4 tie.

Judge entered the game after throwing more than 100 pitches Monday and going the distance in Game 1 Friday.

&8220;He threw me a fastball right down the middle, and I just tried to put it in play,&8221; Edwards said of the 2-2 pitch. &8220;He was a little worn down. He had pitched the last two games. It&8217;s been tough. We&8217;ve seen that Judge kid every time, and we finally got on him.&8221;

Edwards&8217; contribution was the last from a list of players who haven&8217;t been as consistent in that department as others have all season. Burkhardt put the bunt down with Zack Calhoun at second and Kole Junkin at first to move the runners over, and Fondren walked to load the bases.

Alex Middleton put a shot in the gap off reliever Heath Street in left that fell in for an error that scored Calhoun and Junkin to tie the game at 4-4.

&8220;We had the big bunt from Jerad to put the runners in scoring position,&8221; Beesley said. &8220;Things like that are things a good team does and an average team doesn&8217;t do. Preston got behind 0-2 quick, and we were taking the first strike (from Judge) because he was kind of tired. Preston had a tough night at the plate, but he battled and had a disciplined swing at the plate.&8221;

McDonough finished it up in the sixth and seventh after Lake put up three runs in the fifth thanks to Cathedral&8217;s bad fifth to take the lead. McDonough allowed a single with two outs in both the sixth and seventh but retired the next batter for the third out each time.

Middleton made a running grab in right on a hard-hit ball from Sam Wooten to end the game.

&8220;There were 16 kids for them and 20-something kids for us that gave it everything they&8217;ve got,&8221; Lake head coach Brian Goodman said. &8220;You&8217;ve got to tip your hat to them. They had guys who bowed up and got the job done. They put the pressure on us, and we didn&8217;t get it done. Against good teams you can&8217;t make errors. You&8217;ve got to tip your hat to McDonough, too. He&8217;s the person who wanted the ball.&8221;

The Hornets took advantage of their chances in the fifth to take the lead after trailing 2-1. An error and two infield singles loaded the bases for cleanup hitter Cody Everette, who reached on an error that allowed Cody Taylor and Street to score. Wooten then singled in Terrell Ricks for a 4-2 lead.