Cougars spill Bulldogs, 12-5
By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Sullivan Central Cougars raged Monday afternoon at Hampton High School, wanting to take a big win.
   After a tight four innings, Central (16-13, 10-3) drove off into the sunset, taking second place in the Watauga Conference with a 12-5 win over the Hampton Bulldogs.
   "We needed that win," said Central coach Brandon Krantz. "It solidified second place for us. Our kids came out and played hard, and with a lot of enthusiasm like they have all year.
   "We needed this win and they came through. Shane Jobe threw an excellent game. Josh O'Dell was five for five, had a career day behind the plate. We're just getting ready for the tournament now."
   Both teams opened up to little success, going down quickly in the first inning. The second inning was a different story, as Central plowed four runs onto the scoreboard.
   Josh O'Dell began his hitting streak with a single, and scored after a Brian Jackson hit. Jackson scored from a Daniel Shelton single, leading to a Shane Benderman shot which drove in two RBIs.
   The Bulldogs fired right back behind Adam Miller and Justin Waycaster, but it wasn't enough as the Cougars took a quick 4-0 lead over Hampton.
   Central scored in the third inning, after a Adam Hardin double, followed by a fielder's choice RBI from Brian Jackson. The Cougars proweled with their 5-0 lead, but the Bulldogs bit back hard.
   With two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, Kevin Harrison and Ryan Deskins quickly got on base for Hampton, setting up a powerful two RBI double from Robby England, cutting the lead to 5-2.
   Both teams looked good on the defensive side in the fourth inning, as each team recorded three quick outs. Though Hampton looked primed for a comeback, Central exploded quickly in the fifth inning.
   O'Dell opened with a single, followed by a Brian Jackson walk, before Joey Watson took a swing and scored them both with a towering single. Watson scored from a Shane Benderman double, giving Sullivan Central the 8-2 advantage.
   Hampton attemped a run, but were held back again. The Bulldog defense pummeled Central in the sixth inning, setting up another chance at the bats where England prevailed. England stepped up with an out on the board for Hampton, and sent a straight shot over the centerfield wall for a nice home run, cutting the lead to 8-3.
   It appeared to fire the Cougars, as Sullivan Central put the game away quickly in the seventh inning. Daniel Shelton opened with a walk, followed by an RBI double from Shane Benderman, who scored from an RBI single by Chris Moore. Moore scored from an Adam Hardin double, giving Sullivan Central the 12-3 lead over Hampton.
   Hampton never gave up as Miller and Waycaster both scored runs for the Bulldogs, but it wasn't enough as Sullivan Central defeated Hampton, 12-5.
   "We showed signs of being able just to play a little bit with our adversity and so on," said Hampton coach Scotty Bunton. "I'm glad to get the pitchers back a little bit there at the end, where both of them could throw just a little. Our shortstop is out for the year, so we've had to move people around several different places so we could find somebody to play."
   "They're learning to play just a little bit, and Central came up and hit the ball real well. And most of what they got was hits, so I can't say anything. We gave up a few early there, they just hit the ball there at the end. We're trying to battle and stick with it."
   The Cougars host Volunteer this afternoon with a 4:30 gametime. Also today, Hampton entertains Unicoi County at 4.