By JOSH FRYE
Escambia Academy’s varsity baseball season came to an end last Friday, April 30, when Edgewood Academy knocked the Cougars out of the 2021 AISA Baseball Playoffs. The Wildcats won 2 out of 3 games in a best of 3 series against the Cougars.
During game 1 last Thursday April 29, EA started out slow, but found a way to win after trailing during the top of the seventh inning when Christian Crook grounded out, scoring 2 runs and giving the Cougars an 8-6 victory. Jacob Lee gained the game 1 win on the mound for EA. Lee pitched 2 innings, allowed 4 runs on 4 hits and struck out 2 batters. Randall Bonds led EA at the plate. Bonds went 3-for-4 and scored 3 times. The Cougars had 9 hits. Parker Robinson, Bonds and Lee all managed multiple hits.
During game 2 of the series last Thursday (April 29), EA was knocked off by Edgewood, 15-5. The Wildcats wasted little time getting on the board, scoring 3 during the first inning. During the bottom of the fourth inning, Landon Sims gained the first points for EA when he reached home on an Edgewood error. The Cougars attempted to rally during the bottom of the fifth with 4 runs from Crook, Robinson, Lee and Caleb Davis, but fell short as Edgewood scored 4 more runs during the sixth inning. Robinson pitched just over 3 innings and took the loss on the mound for EA. Robinson allowed 6 runs off 4 hits, struck out 4 batters and walked 3. Robinson threw 77 pitches and 46 strikes.
During last Friday’s game 3 matchup, Edgewood downed the Cougars, 13-6, despite a strong EA lead during the first 2 innings. The Cougars took the early lead when Lee singled on a 3-2 count during the top of the first inning, driving in Robinson. Edgewood, however, matched the point during the bottom of the first. During the top of the second, Robinson, Davis, Bonds, Lee and Sam Fields all scored, breaking the deadlock. Despite the strong first- and second-inning performances, the Cougars were shut down for the rest of the game by a strong Edgewood defense and offense.
According to EA head coach Mike Sims, pitching manpower shortages really hurt the Cougars during the remainder of the game. Sims noted that J.J. Stevens, one of EA’s powerhouse pitchers, was injured. Sims stressed that the absence of Stevens on mound really hindered the game for the Cougars.
“This was a game where you really did not want to hurt yourself,” Sims said. “The team played solid defense in the field, but with Stevens missing, our pitching game was off. Davis really stepped up and did great on the mound for us, but we just could not gain the last win that we needed.”
Davis went just over 5 innings, allowing 10 hits and 8 runs while striking out 2 batters. EA totaled 13 hits during the game. Robinson, Lee and Brady Howell all managed multiple hits.
The Cougars finish the 2021 season with a record of 22-13. Tyler Ray, Robinson, Davis, Bonds and Fields are all senior players who will not return to the diamond for EA next season.
“They will be missed,” EA headmaster Hugh Fountain said. “These guys have been vital parts of multiple sports teams and made us proud. They have helped made huge impacts on our school family and sporting traditions.”
Sims, a baseball standout for the Cougars, stole 35 bases in 35 attempts this season. Robinson led in batting with a .398 average. According to Fountain, the end of baseball season officially marks the end to all school sporting events and functions until next year.