Jeffrey Cook had a feeling.
Like any coach armed with a hard-throwing pitcher capable of going on back-to-back days, the Columbus High School baseball coach guessed Warren Central was going to come back with Cody Waddell in game two of their best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A North State playoff series.
On Friday, Waddell, a senior right-hander, needed to go only two innings as Warren Central capitalized on 10 errors in a 13-3 victory.
Waddell came back Saturday and showed he had plenty left, allowing only one hit in a complete-game effort to lead Warren Central to a 3-1 victory.
“They earned it,” Cook said. “They got four hits in the first inning. It wasn’t like we booted it around or anything. They just did the job.”
The loss ended Columbus’ season at 15-10. Columbus beat Tupelo 2-0 Wednesday to earn a share of the Class 6A, Region 2 title, and the No. 2 seed.
Hunter Mullis pitched a complete-game six-hitter for the Falcons. The left-hander, who beat Warren Central in the first round of the Class 6A North State playoffs last season, was equally effective. He allowed four of his hits in the first inning when the Vikings scored all of their runs.
“Hunter did outstanding,” Cook said. “He is such a smart kid and a crafty pitcher. He was throwing a little bit and started taking some off. His breaking ball was working well, his changeup was doing well, and he kept them of balance the rest of the game (after the first inning) and gave us a chance. Their pitcher was just better than our bats today.”
Columbus scored its run in the bottom of the first on a groundout by Chris McCullough. Greg Sykes’ single in the seventh was Columbus’ only hit.
Waddell has signed a scholarship to play at Northwest Mississippi Community College in the fall. Cook said Waddell, who throws in the mid to upper 80s, probably is the hardest thrower his team has faced this season.
“It was not a game we normally play,” Cook said of his team’s performance Friday. “We just booted it around and they were able to get Waddell out so he could come again today. That was huge because he is one of the best pitchers in the state. We just didn’t compete enough last night to make him throw pitches so they had to throw a No. 2 or a No. 3.”
Columbus loses seniors Beau Edwards, Glenn Robinson, and Tyler Blevins from the lineup. Cook said the returning nucleus should be a strong start to help the program build on back-to-back postseason appearances, something the Falcons haven’t done in several seasons. With starting pitchers Trace Lee, Christian Dale, and Hunter Mullis able to return, Cook is optimistic his team can take the next step in 2013.
“I believe in Columbus baseball,” Cook said. “We earned a share of the division championship. We return the majority of our team next year. We expect big things out of them. We expect to have a good summer. Feel this feeling right now. It is not fun. This time next year, we want to have a different feeling, and it starts next week. We have start getting better in the weight room, and we’ll start preparing for the summer next week.”
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