Blues and Hoots Duel in 18-run Classic; Columbus Maintains Lead in West Division

by Zak DeBeaussaert

Columbus, GA - The Columbus Chatt-a-Hoots evened out their midweek series with the Atlanta Blues after an offensive showcase from both teams. The Hoots came out on top 10-8 after a nearly four hour game.

The Blues struck first with a three-run first inning, highlighted by a two-run home run from RJ Austin, his first homer of the season just two batters in to the game. The Hoots would answer with two runs of their own as Zane Ross and Simms Owens came across to score after both recorded singles and found their way around with a combination of stolen bases and passed balls.

The Hoots took their first lead of the game in the very next inning as Britt Netterville and Jonathan Manibusan led off the inning with back-to-back singles. One got plated in with a wild pitch from starter Aiden Berggren and another scored on a double play turned by the defense with the bases loaded.

Berggren would only last 2.1 innings surrendering those four runs, the Hoots starter Bryce Valero went four-plus innings. He was chased in the 5th after allowing the first three runners to get on base. An RBI knock by RJ Austin made the game 6-5 before Brad Grasser came in and retired the first three he saw to end the run.

From the bottom of the 4th inning to the bottom of the 6th inning, every half-inning saw the team at bat score two runs. When the Blues would come back within one, the Hoots would re-establish their lead with two more runs of their own to answer. the most notable hit in this streak of offense came when Brennan Hudson entered the game in the catcher position and his first plate appearance was taken yard to right field.

With a 10-7 game going into the final three innings the pitching and defense began to lock things down. Ashton Shackelford for the Hoots went 2.2 innings in the second half of the game and only allowed two hits, including a run of four batters out of five striking out in innings seven and eight. The Hoots thought they tacked on an insurance run with a Conner O'Neal dribbler to first base with one out that was going to score a man from third. However in the midst of trying a double play, Cooper Krause was ruled to have interfered with Termarr Johnson on his throw to try and double up O'Neal and the bottom of the 8th ended on that call.

In the 9th, the Blues finally chased Shackelford out of the game after an error saw pinch hitter Christian Jackson get on 2nd and then an RBI double from Johnson made it a 10-8 game. Nick Morgan came out of the pen and recorded three straight outs on just seven pitches to pick up his first save of the season.

The Hoots now look forward to a home-and-home weekend series with the Choccolocco Monsters. Friday's game is at Golden Park, 7:05 first pitch and tickets are available at