HAMILTON – Hamilton’s two seniors had their career moments on Friday night as the Lions blasted Vardaman to claim their third division championship in a row.
Grayson Cockerham dominated on the mound, tossing a one-hitter and striking out 17 in six innings, and Sam Robinson blasted a two-run, walkoff homer to finish the 11-0 win off in the bottom of the sixth.
“A win like tonight, it really solidifies what us coaches have been trying to put in their heads about what we are trying to do, how we’re trying to build, and tonight checked every box on that,” Hamilton coach Dallas Flippo said. “You’re getting hot at the right time, and I’m proud of them. Our seniors had a big night, and we have guys coming off the bench because of injuries that were hitting the ball tonight and ones who had been struggling who buckled in tonight.”
Vardaman got its lone hit of the game on a leadoff double to right, but Cockerham stranded him at first by striking out the next three and cruised from there.
The Rams put just three more balls in play on a pair of errors on the infield and a fly out to Suede Shows in right field, and Cockerham sat down eight in a row at one point.
“I just threw it to Blake (Gosa) tonight, and I have to give him credit because every single breaking ball I threw, he dug it out of the ground,” Cockerham said. “They were swinging at those pitches. After that first hit, I felt like when I got challenged, I wasn’t going to back down.”
The Lions’ offense didn’t score in the first or third innings, but came through in the other four.
In the second, Joshua West put Hamilton on the board with a two-out, two-run single after Robinson and Gosa each reached on errors.
Hamilton took advantage of four walks in the fourth, one each to Robinson, Shows, West and Evan Pounders and a hit by Ethan Gazaway. The Lions scored on a passed ball and Pounders’ walk.
Robinson started things off in the fifth with a one-out single up the middle, and pinch hitter Thomas Boles smoked an RBI double to drive him in. Gazaway had his second hit of the night with an RBI single to make it 6-0.
Hamilton sent just five to the plate but scored just as many runs to finish off the game in the sixth. Evan Pounders reached on an error to open the frame, and Cockerham drew a walk. Drake Pittman doubled to right to score Pounders, and Cockerham came in on a wild pitch.
Quinn Pounders reached on an error, and Robinson capped off the night with an exclamation point on his two-run blast to right field for his first career home run.
“I haven’t been hitting my best lately, and I just came up there and knew we had a guy on base and that if we got two more, it was a run rule,” Robinson said. “I just felt like with the division championship at our place, it was time to break loose. He threw it up there, and it was one I liked and let it fly.”
The Lions bounced back from their lone division loss, 1-0, to Vardaman last Tuesday night. West allowed one run on six hits, walked one and struck out seven in taking the hard-luck loss.