Commerce High School extended its winning streak to eight entering this week, with a key win over George Walton Academy last Tuesday at Tiger Field.
The 3-2 win over the Bulldogs in eight innings moved the Tigers (11-3 overall, 8-1 in the region) into a tie for second place in the Region 8-A standings behind Hebron Academy.
The game was important for the record as well as the team’s psyche, coach Steve Cotrell said, with younger players including Chandler Rogers overcoming some early troubles to help the team win.
Rogers provided the game-winning hit.
“It always feels good to win,” Cotrell said. “That was a big win for our program. Those are signs of a good team. We don’t let mistakes bother us. It was a positive outcome, which I’m grateful for. But I still feel like we have to keep getting better and eliminating some of those little mistakes.”
What is still lacking is the mental intensity and focus that can prevent situational mistakes. Some of those factors are the mishandling of routine double plays, not completing a sacrifice bunt or missing the cutoff man.
The Tigers face Tallulah Falls and Towns County this week before their rematch with region-leader Hebron (10-1 overall, 7-0 in the region). The game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 3 at Tiger field. The Lions bested Commerce 1-0 in Dacula on March 6.
“We’re going to find that out in the next couple of weeks if we’ve gotten better, if we’re doing more of the little things right,” Cotrell said. “How many one-run ball games you win determines if you are a good, average or great team. If you are below .500 in one-run teams, you’re an average team at best.”
Finding a balance between pushing and easing up on the players at the midway point of the season is the coaching challenge right now, Cotrell said.
The team will take a break from games between April 5 and April 10 when it returns to the diamond against Riverside Military at Tiger Field.
“The second part of the season will separate the men from the boys and tell us who has gotten better, who is doing the little things right.”
One aspect of the Tigers’ game Cotrell did compliment related to how the entire lineup is contributing, especially in two-strike situations.
“We are getting better at putting the ball in play,” he said. “I felt that was one thing we must improve on with better pitching.”
Tyler Southerland, who hit three-for- three with two RBI against Social Circle last week, has joined Colton Davis, Keenan Lord, Cody Streetman and Josh Swistak as batting higher than .300.
“He is getting on base once or twice a game,” Cotrell said. “The bottom of our order has started to put the ball in play with more consistency. It has made a huge difference.”
Tuesday, March 20 Commerce 3, George Walton 2 (8 innings)
CHS— Keenan Lord 1-4; Chandler Rogers 1-4, 1RBI; Cody Streetman 2-3, 1RBI; Josh Swistak 1-3; Colton Davis 1-3, 1RBI; Tyler Southerland 1-3.
Thursday, March 22
Commerce 14, Social Circle 2
CHS—Lord 2-2, 1RBI; Rogrs 1-2; Streetman 1-1, 2RBI; Swistak 1-3, 2RBI; Davis 1-2, 1RBI; Drew Whitfield 1-2, 3RBI; Southerland 3-3, 2RBI; Robert Hayes 1-3, 2RBI; Lewis 11-3.
Tuesday, March 27
Commerce 14, Prince Avenue 0
CHS—Lord 1-3, 1RBI; Rogers 1-4; Streetman 2-3, 2RBI; Swistak 2-4, 3RBI; Whitfield 1-1, 1RBI; Lewis 1-2, 1RBI; Hayes 0-2, 1RBI.