October 24, 2021

Back-to-Back Baseball Champs at HCMS!

The 2019 West Georgia Small School Baseball Champion HCMS Braves (Front L-R): Sammy Calhoun, Trevor Hansford, Houston Wilson, Will Alford, Jacob Watts, John Paul Awbrey (Back L-R): Coach Dalton Reed, Camden Cosper, Logan Addison, Cameron Wilkins, Tyler Lasseter, Jonathan Echols, Connell White, Jacob “Juice” Miles, Sammy Holliday, Blake Oldham, Gryson Cockrell, Coach Heath Horn, Coach Jud Jones

(Franklin, GA) — After winning the first West Georgia Small Middle School Baseball Championship in school history in 2018, the Heard County Middle School Braves repeated that performance in almost every way Thursday to capture the second of back-to-back titles.

Amazingly, the Braves not only defeated the same Villa Rica Wildcats team as a year ago — they once again defeated them by the exact same score of 12-2.

A walk-off base hit by John Paul Awbrey drove home Will Alford to end the game vis run rule in the bottom of the fifth inning. Alford had reached base on a triple — his third of the season.

Many of the usual suspects powered the Braves offense in the title tilt with five different players having multiple hits.

From the lead-off spot sixth grader Gryson Cockrell went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI’s. Alford, Jacob Watts, Jonathan Echols, and Blake Oldham each had two hits as well in the offensive rout. Houston Wilson had just one hit but drove home two.

On the mound, Jacob “Juice” Miles earned the win after tossing four innings and allowing just four hits and two earned runs. Miles pitched around a couple of difficult situations after struggling with his control and walking six.

A double play in the top of the third was crucial in keeping the Wildcats at as they tried to rally trailing just 3-1 at the time.

Jacob Watts came on in relief to retire the side for the Cats in the top of the fifth just prior to Awbrey’s walk-off hit.

The Braves finished the season at 10-2 with no losses in the small school division and the only two losses coming to a talented Bay Springs squad.

Coach Jud Jones was proud of the ways his guys played under the big pressure atmosphere in front of a very large crowd at HCMS.

“Everything just really came together today — all of the stuff we’ve been working so hard on and just really pounding into these guy’s heads really came together today,” said Jones after the game. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. The way they played today is what we’ve been looking for all season long. We’re sending another great class of nine eighth graders over to the high school next year.”

Several middle Braves finished the 2019 campaign with some lofty stats including four players that batted over .400 for the season.

Will Alford finished at the top of that list batting .529 and leading the team in hits (18), triples (3), runs (22), RBI’s (tied-19), and stolen bases with 12.

John Paul Awbrey led the team in doubles with nine and only struck out four times in 34 at bats. He drove in 19 and scored 16 runs.

Blake Oldham batted .480 with three doubles and 12 RBI’s while Tyler Lasseter batted .469 also with 12 batted in. Gryson Cockrell had a big sixth grade season batting .333 with 19 RBI’s, six doubles and seven steals.

Other top offensive players for the Braves this season included Jonathan Echols (.393, 13 runs, 7 steals), Jacob Watts (.355, 16 runs, 5 steals), Jacob Miles (.348, 8 steals), and Trevor Hansford (7 runs, 8 steals).

On the mound it was Miles leading the way with three wins and an ERA of just 2.33 with 36 K’s in just 27 innings pitched.

Jacob Watts also had a stellar season boasting a very low ERA of 1.66 with 18 strikeouts in 12.2 innings of work.

Logan Addison pitched in four games during the season without allowing a single earned run. He struck out 15 in just 8.1 innings and recorded the team’s only save of the season.

Despite losing a plethora of eighth grade talent to the high school next year, Jones says he has some strong players returning to HCMS in 2020.

“Gryson Cockrell is a smart left-handed sixth grader coming back that will be huge for us next year. Blake Oldham behind the plate, Trevor Hansford who played several roles for us this year will be back and Sammy Holliday should be an anchor for us in the infield next season,” says Jones.

The Braves were coached this season by Jones, Heath Horn, and Dalton Reed.

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