Wright pitches gem for Cavaliers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
He was up to the challenge.
On the eve of Callaway’s critical region showdown with Bremen, pitcher Dawson Wright found out from head coach Dusty Hubbard that he was going to get the ball.
That decision paid huge dividends, with Wright delivering a phenomenal performance against a Bremen team that was ranked first in Class AA in the Georgia Dugout Preview Magazine poll.
Wright went out and threw a complete-game four-hitter as Callaway secured a 3-2 home victory on Tuesday afternoon.
The teams will play two more games today at Bremen, with the doubleheader set to begin at 4:30 p.m.
It’s a key series between teams hopeful of winning the Region 5-AA championship and possibly competing for a state title.
Getting the first win of the series was big for the Cavaliers, especially since it was on their home field.
If Callaway can split today’s doubleheader, it will win the series and get a leg-up in the chase for the region crown.
“You try to downplay it a little bit, but it was going to be really tough if we didn’t get this one,” Hubbard said. “Now you’ve got to find a way to win one (today).”
That the Cavaliers are in position to win the series with a split is a testament to the mastery of Wright.
The Blue Devils had four hits, all singles, and both of their runs were unearned.
With the game on the line in the top of the seventh inning, Wright was at his best.
Bremen had a runner on second with two outs when Wright got a strikeout to end the threat, and the ballgame.
“I just made sure I was hitting my spots,” Wright said of pitching with the tying run on second base in the seventh inning. “My heart was definitely pumping.”
A key to Wright’s effectiveness was his ability to throw strikes.
Of the 78 pitches Wright threw, 55 of them were strikes, and he only walked one batter.
“He was unbelievable,” Hubbard said. “He didn’t give up an earned run. He consistently got ahead in the count. That was the key. And he was able to throw his breaking ball for strikes. I think he walked one and hit one (batter). He didn’t give up free bases, and that’s the key to the game.”
Wright said he “was pretty excited” to get the chance to take the mound for such an important game.
“I didn’t think I was going to get it, and then (Hubbard) told me,” Wright said. “I was ready to go.”
Offensively, the Cavaliers did enough.
Braelin Mitchell hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning that gave the Cavaliers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and leadoff hitter Drake Wade had a pair of hits and two runs scored.
Brooks Bledsoe had RBIs on a sacrifice fly and a groundout, and Trent Sheppard, Destin Patrick, Wesley Marchman and Bryce Kurian each had a hit.
The Cavaliers scored single runs in the first, fourth and fifth innings, and that was enough thanks to the effectiveness of Wright.
“For him to go out there and bulldog and get that first one was big for us,” said Mitchell, who played first base behind Wright.
Ethan Brock was the tough-luck loser for Bremen.
Brock started and pitched five innings, and he held Callaway to five hits and two earned runs.
Jack Allen pitched a scoreless bottom of the sixth to keep Bremen within a run.
Chip O’Neal was hit by a pitch leading off the top of the seventh, and he moved to second on a groundout.
With two outs and a runner on second, Wright got a swinging strikeout to end the suspense.
“In the seventh inning, I thought he got a little stronger,” Hubbard said. “He could smell it.”
Bremen struck first in the game with a run in the top of the first inning on a two-out RBI single by Brant Ivey.
The Cavaliers answered with a run in the bottom of the inning to tie it.
Wade, a dynamic presence at the top of the order, reached on a bunt single, and he advanced to second on an error and to third on a passed ball.
Bledsoe did his job with a sacrifice fly to bring Wade home with the tying run.
After back-to-back perfect innings, Wright ran into trouble in the top of the fourth, with Bremen loading the bases with one out. Wright was unfazed, and he got a lineout and a groundout to leave all three base runners stranded.
The leadoff hitter in the bottom of the fourth was Mitchell, and he launched the ball over the center-field fence for the solo home run. The outfielder ran into the fence, and it wasn’t clear if he made the catch or not.
The ball did indeed have enough flight to make it over the fence, and the Cavaliers led 2-1.
“I couldn’t tell (if the ball was gone),” Mitchell said. “I got a good swing on it, but it wasn’t my best swing. I got it up and it carried.”
The Cavaliers tagged on an insurance run in the fifth inning, and once again Wade was the instigator.
Wade doubled with one out, and he advanced to third on an error.
Bledsoe hit the ball on the ground, and when the throw went to first for the out, Wade took off and he slid home with the Cavaliers’ third run.
Bremen cut the Cavaliers’ lead to one with a run in the sixth inning.
Ivey reached on a one-out single, and he later scored on an error to make it a 3-2 game.
With the tying run on second, Wright got a groundout to keep the Cavaliers ahead by one.
The Cavaliers got base hits by Marchman and Kurian in the bottom of the sixth, but they were unable to add to their lead.
With no margin for error, Wright took care of business in the seventh inning to secure the victory.