For the Pepperell Dragons, it was just any other Region 7-AA baseball game.
The stadium may have been bigger and the lights might have been brighter, but as long as they played the right way, they could win.
Pepperell scored early and held on despite a grinding Coosa rally for a 7-5 win against the Eagles as part of the Rome Braves Invitational on Saturday at State Mutual Stadium. It is the Dragons’ fourth Region 7-AA win in their last five games.
While it was the final game in a day of high school games hosted in the minor league ballpark, the contest didn’t deter Pepperell from continuing to turn its season around.
“This is an opportunity not a lot of high school kids get, so we told them to appreciate it,” Pepperell coach Matt Montgomery said. “We did not want to get caught up in anything. We just wanted to still concentrate on getting better.”
Pepperell (4-10, 4-1 7-AA) was powered by designated player Blake Vasser, who recorded two hits, a walk and scored three runs in the nighttime contest. Wesley Wade recorded two hits, while Brett Baker picked up the win and went five innings with two runs allowed, striking out three.
Coosa (2-3, 6-9) relied on leadoff hitter Dylan Callahan, who had two hits, a walk and scored two runs, while Logan Pledger reached base twice. Nearly all of the Eagles’ offense came in the sixth where they came one big hit from tying the game.
Pepperell almost let its five-run lead slip away when Coosa rallied with a series of hits, walks and errors. After Pledger reached base via throwing error, the Eagles had cut the lead to 7-5 and had runners on the corners.
Moments later, Brooks Moore grounded the ball to Avery Gambrell at third, who redeemed himself from an earlier throwing error and ended the top half of the inning. The composure to make the final out, and three quick outs in the seventh to win, is part of what Montgomery said has changed Pepperell’s season for the better.
“I feel like the boys have matured a lot in situations like that,” Montgomery said. “Things are going to go bad, because this is a game of failure. It is just about how you react to the bad things, and we responded well.”
After taking an early 2-1 lead, the Dragons broke the game out with four runs in the fourth off mostly singles and walks.
In a game without a single extra-base hit, the Eagles relied on consistent at-bats from players like Vasser, Wade and Trevor Thomas.
Coosa could only produce one more run beyond that sixth, but Eagles coach Will Wiggins still found some positivity from the game.
“Today, I really think we learned how to fight,” Wiggins said. “I think that’s something we had a little trouble with. Pepperell is a great ball club, so I am just proud of my kids for fighting back against them.”
Coosa will host Cherokee (Ala.) on Monday, while Pepperell travels to Rockmart on Tuesday.