In baseball, Region 4-AAAAA is going to come down to a three-team race between Ola, Union Grove and Locust Grove for the top spot. On Friday night, two of the three faced off for the first time this season as the Ola Mustangs (9-3) traveled to Union Grove to face the Wolverines (10-3). In a game that looked to be a pitchers’ duel on paper, the Mustangs got early lightning from a Patrick Holloman three-run homer and road the left arm of Evan Boyle the rest of the way for a comfortable 7-1 win.
Jack Whitmer lead off the game for the Mustangs by working a walk but appeared to get picked off by Wolverine starting pitcher Adam Burnett. However, Whitmer stayed in a rundown long enough to get back to first safely, although it appeared he was outside the baseline at several points. After a walk by Dalton Thomas, the left-handed Holloman step to the plate and drilled the first pitch he saw deep to right center for a homerun and a 3-0 lead. The Wolverines would add two more from base hits by Tatum Sullivan and Cason Barnett and had a 5-0 advantage before Union Grove even got to hit.
From there. Boyle assumed control. Working quickly and ahead in the count, he only allowed one hit over the first four innings, a two out single to Brody Couch in the second. The Mustangs would strike again in the top of the second, Noah Norman hit a leadoff double and Holloman brought him home with a solid single. The game looked like it was destined to fall under the GHSA mercy run rules, but the Wolverine bullpen, led by Andrew Smith, Chase Gammage and Camren Justice calmed the storm and pitch solid the rest of the way, not allowing another earned run on the night. Gammage was especially effective in the top of the third when he faced the bases loaded with one out but struck out the next to batters to end the threat.
Union Grove reached the scoreboard in the sixth inning when Western Carolina commit Jalen Jones worked a leadoff walk and scored on a Kyle Ayers single. It looked like the Wolverines would continue to chip away but a base running mistake cost them a runner and the inning ended quietly.
Mustang Jeremy Rosado pitched a perfect inning of relief in the bottom of the 7th to close out the 7-1 ballgame. While the scoreboard doesn’t reflect it, the Wolverines played tough after the second inning and with a couple of breaks could have made things a lot closer.
After the game, Ola Head Coach Beau Edwards said, “We finally hit the ball decently, we have been struggling lately, we have been playing a lot of small-ball, that and our pitching has kept us in a lot of games. The homerun set the tone for the whole game.” On the work of his winning pitcher, Edwards added, “He pitched well, he made the pitches and let his defense do the work.”
Joey Pourron had two hits for the Wolverines while Holloman and Cason Barnett both each two for the Mustangs. Ola also played flawless defense and did not give the Wolverines any extra outs. In the bottom of the fourth, Gammage had a sure hit taken away by a web-gem from Matthew Mamatas. Edwards summed things up, “We played well, top to bottom, even the bench, everyone was in the game, I can’t be more pleased with how we played tonight.”
The two teams will face off again on Monday night at Ola where Union Grove will look to get revenge and stay at the top of the region standings.