CAIRO -- What started as a pitchers' duel ended in a Region 1-AAA rout for Cairo on Tuesday.
Cairo (8-7, 4-1) pitcher Chris Layton allowed just three hits and struck out seven batters in seven shutout innings. Combine that with a five-run sixth inning and the Syrupmakers emerged with a 6-0 win against Worth County in a battle of the top two of the top three teams in region.
Layton benefited from several sensational defensive plays behind him. Bailey Lewis made a terrific running catch in left field to rob Eli Reddell of an RBI. Cairo catcher Chas Funderburk threw out a pair of base runners in the fifth inning to end a Rams' scoring threat.
"We had batting practice this morning and I kind of, personally, put a challenge to him and he accepted the challenge, obviously, and pitched a dominating game," Cairo coach Ron Best said.
Layton benefited from several sensation defensive plays behind him. Bailey Lewis made a terrific running catch in left field to rob Eli Reddell of an RBI. Cairo catcher Chas Funderburk threw out a pair of base runners in the fifth inning to end a scoring a Rams' scoring threat.
"That's a freshman in left field that made that nice catch. He was recovering because he misjudged it a little bit. He was recovering and made a super catch there," Best said. "Chas has been solid behind the plate all year. We practice running some pickoff plays because we have a catcher that can run it. It's nice for them to work. It'll keep them interested in practicing those now, I think."
Like Worth County (10-7, 3-2), Cairo's offense was shut down for most of the game. The Syrupmakers were held hitless through the first four innings. In the last two, though, Cairo reeled off seven hits and knocked Worth County starter Will Peacock out of the game. Peacock went 5 1/3, gave up five hits, struck out seven and walked three.
"No disrespect to Peacock but we took so many pitches our first time through the order. The next time through the order, he maybe was tiring a little bit but we also swung the bat a little more aggressively," Best said. "I think Chris was getting a little stronger and that's adrenaline. He wants that win."
With the win, Cairo sits alone in second place in the region, one game behind Crisp County. Worth County drops to third place in the region standings, two games behind the Cougars.
"Crisp has beaten everybody first time around handily," Best said. "It gives us a chance, if we can take care of the games along the way, it gives us a chance back down here in Cairo to play them and maybe pull even if we're in that position. It keeps us in a chance for the region championship. We want to come down to that last week and have a chance."
--- Clint Thompson/Thomasville Times-Enterprise