WHITE HALL — After giving up a leadoff triple in the bottom of the seventh inning, Stuttgart freshman Cole Morgan struck out two of the next three batters and help preserve a 4-3 victory over White Hall Friday night.
“That’s a ninth grader, but he loves those kind of situations,” Stuttgart head coach Vincent Newton said. “That’s why I saved him for last.”
White Hall junior Kirk Baugh hit a leadoff triple to right center — his first hit in about six games — but Morgan struck out Caleb Carr and Turner Sparks for the first two outs and B.J. Pullman popped up to the third baseman to end the game.
“When I hung that slider, I paid for it,” Morgan said. “I just had to trust coach with the pitches that he called and execute them.”
Morgan said he has been in that kind of situation before but “not at this level.”
“I knew if that run got in, it would just be tied,” Morgan said. “I just needed to get three outs and get it to extra innings.”
Morgan pitched 1 2/3 innings and allowed a hit, a walk and two strikeouts.
“He was hitting his spots well,” White Hall head coach Skip Carr said. “I don’t know if we had a good plan at the plate and we probably got caught up in the moment.
“(Morgan) did a good job. He battled harder than we did. Their whole team battled harder than we did.”
Stuttgart (9-9) scored two runs in the fourth and fifth innings but three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning by White Hall (10-8) got the game within one run.
“It’s a big win, it’s a good win for us,” Newton said. “We are about to go into district, regional and state.
“District tournament starts next Thursday, so to beat a team like White Hall. It is real good for our morale.
“It lets our kids know that we can play with anybody.”
Preston Earlywine hit a two-run double in the top of the fifth inning to give Stuttgart the 4-0 lead. It plated Carter Ward and Blake Marks who reached on a bunt and walk, respectively.
“The kids can’t take anything for granted,” Carr said. “They got to play hard every pitch and every game counts.”
White Hall tallied just four hits in the game and left nine runners on base. The Bulldogs got the deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth thanks in part to a bases-loaded walk to pinch hitter Daniel Sprinkle and a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Dickinson.
“Our last few games, we haven’t hit very well,” Carr said. “Our approach has got to be a lot better at the plate.”
Carr said it has been a mental problem for the Bulldogs.
“The guys can hit, they work on it constantly,” he said. “They are always in the cages hitting. It is just when they get to the plate, they put too much pressure on themselves.”
Antoine Luster pitched five innings in the loss for White Hall. He allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits with four walks and four strikeouts.
Blake Marks went four innings and is credited with the win. He allowed just two hits with one walk and no strikeouts. Jack Morgan pitched 1 1/3 innings and gave up three runs (two earned) on one hit with four walks and one strikeout.
“I was curious to see how we were going to respond,” Newton said. “After giving up three runs and getting into position, I was just interested to see how we would respond.
“You have to win games like this late in the year.”
Earlywine finished 1 for 3 with the two RBIs to lead Stuttgart’s offense.
For White Hall, Aaron Johnston had three walks and scored one run. Carr finished 1 for 3 with a run scored.
“It was a great big win, because we’re one game under 500 coming in,” Cole Morgan said. “We got district next week and it really boosted our confidence getting this W.”