Etheridge, Southeast head to postseason
By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
April 13, 2001
It's been a long time coming, but the Southeast Lauderdale Tigers must have thought head coach Larry Etheridge needed a good bath.
They gave it to him, via the water cooler, just after the Tigers dispensed with the Newton County Cougars, 8-1.
The Tigers (9-8 overall, 9-3 in Division 5-3A) also gave Etheridge and the home fans a berth in the Class 3A playoffs after a two-year absence.
Etheridge was referring to seniors John Coker, T.J. Aniel, Andrew Lilly and Billy Harper, and with good reason. Each played a big role in determining whether or not the postseason drought which has gone on since 1998 would be ended.
The Tigers pieced together a run in each of the first four frames to gain control, before Newton County pitcher Adam Bout was plated on a sacrifice fly by Matt Boggan.
Coker took the hill and used his control to gain the victory. He also garnered a pair of hits, one of which went for a single to right field. That was just before Lilly came up and garnered his second, a towering two-run home run to left-center that effectively put the Cougars (9-12, 8-4 in 5-3A) out of reach with a 6-1 margin in the bottom of the sixth.
After Lilly's jack, first baseman T.J. Aniel came up and almost put the ball over the center-field wall, but it fell in just short for a standup double. Harper followed with a walk and Andy Landrum came up and got his second of the night with a screaming liner to right for a two-RBI single that provided the game's final margin.
Coker (5-2) and Lilly combined to fan nine batters.
After Newton County's Brandon Ezell singled to lead off the top of the seventh, Lilly bore down and retired the next three to send the Cougars home for the playoffs, just one season removed from a berth in the South State championship game.
The Cougars will be in action again Saturday at cross-county rival Newton, while more than likely, Southeast will face Greene County on the road in the first round of the playoffs next week.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.