Jackson Cook

South's Jackson Cook finished with 8 strikeouts in a blowout win over Houlka on Saturday.

SPRINGVILLE - The South Pontotoc Cougars started their 2020 campaign strong on Saturday, defeating Houlka 16-0 in three innings.

Pontotoc was blessed with the prettiest weather in three weeks for the opening of baseball season. The Houlka Wildcats took the short bus ride to Springville ready to compete, but they, although they played hard, were outmatched.

Jackson Cook was stingy on the mound for the Cougars. He allowed no hits in three shutout innings and racked up eight strikeouts. He fanned the side in the top of the second.

Sporting vintage, white uniforms with striped socks, the Cougars got started offensively in the bottom of the second. Chris Fleming was hit by a pitch from Houlka starter Micah Brown. He stole second and third before scoring on a misplayed sharp ground ball to third from Ashton Goggins.

A solid single to center by Cade Jones continued a productive bottom of the inning for the Cougars. Jackson Cook then reached on an error to load the bases, and two consecutive walks pushed two more runs across. Hunter Bagwell recorded an RBI groundout to bring home courtesy runner Trace Ash. Channing Lackey put South up 6-0 when he plated Bennett Mayo and Eli Allen with a double to center.

A error on a ground ball from Cade Jones scored two more. Mayo drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 9-0.

Eli Allen hustled out an infield single that drove in Jones. Then Bagwell stung a 3-run, bases-clearing double to left center field, pushing South ahead 13-0. Peyton Day came on in relief for Houlka and got the final out of the inning.

Cook struck out the side again in the top of the third.

At the plate, Cook lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Goggins in the bottom of the frame for the Cougars' 14th run. Jones had previously reached on an error, and a single from Joshua Stuto and walk to Eli Allen loaded the bases. Bagwell tomahawked a two-run single into right center to make it 16-0 and end the contest.

Bagwell went 2-4 and drove in six to lead South at the plate. Allen and Lackey also finished with 2 RBI.

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