CLEVELAND — Moments after the last pitch Friday night in Cleveland, White County baseball coach John Brown said he was not surprised. His Warriors has just finished sweeping Carrollton in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs to advance to the second round for the first time in school history, but Brown was still not surprised.
That’s not to say the coach knew his team was going to win, or that he had taken it for granted they would. Neither could be farther from the truth.
What failed to surprise Brown were the stellar all-around performances from the senior duo of David Sosebee and Luke Crumley.
The two combined to earn two wins on the mound, striking out 18, while hitting five home runs and driving in eight runs, as the Warriors (22-4) won 11-6 and 10-7. White County will host the winner of Allatoona/Saint Pius X for a doubleheader to begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
When asked if he saw anything unexpected out of Sosebee and Crumley, Brown simply said no.
“They’ve been doing it all year, so it’s no surprise they did it tonight,” Brown said. “Champions find a way to win. They come through when it counts and tonight we had guys come through.”
Both Game 1 and Game 2 began with an early big inning from White County, continued with a long stretch of strong pitching, and ended with the Warriors fighting off a furious Trojans’ rally.
After pitching around a single and a runner that reached on a dropped third strike in the first inning, Crumley settled into Game 2, throwing six innings and striking out eight. He also helped to ensure his own run support by following a three-run homer from Sosebee (1-for-2) in the top of the second with his own solo shot, and then driving in Sosebee in the top of the fourth with a two-run blast that made the score 7-1.
“We’ve been feeding off of each other all year in the lineup,” Crumley, who bats in the third spot behind Sosebee, said. “Our whole lineup hit great tonight. When we get going, the entire lineup seems to get going and that happened tonight.
Crumley finished the game 2-for-3, with two home runs, three runs scored and three RBIs, while Sosbee finished with a home run, three runs scored, three RBIs and two walks.
The only blight on Crumley’s performance came in the bottom of the fourth. After surrendering three walks over the course of the inning to load the bases, Crumley gave up a base-clearing triple to Carrollton’s Dylan Ross. After a brief visit to the mound by Sosebee, Crumley struck out the next batter and White County went into the fifth inning with a 7-4 lead.
When asked what he said to his teammate, Sosebee just shrugged.
“We know each other really well. We’ve worked together so long that I know what he’s trying to do and he knows what I’m trying to do,” Sosebee said. “So when I’m doing something wrong, he usually can tell me what it is, and I can do the same from him.”
Carrollton tacked on a run in the bottom of the fifth on a dropped pop fly, but a two-RBI triple from Kyle Mills, and an RBI single from Brett Westmoreland, in the sixth put the game firmly in White County’s hands. The Trojans threatened briefly in the seventh, managing to get two runners across, before reliever Justin Hester retired the side and earn his second save of the night.
In Game 1, Sosebee (10-0) earned the win, throwing six innings with eight strikeouts, four walks, six hits and two earned runs, while going 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and two runs scored. Sosebee had immediate run support; the Warriors scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning, including a grand slam from Brett Westmoreland. The Trojans once again threatened late, scoring four runs in the top of the seventh off of freshman reliever Spencer Adams, before Hester came in to earn the save.