Columbus falls in championship round to Alpharetta

by Daniel Wilson

Alpharetta – The Alpharetta Aviators (22-11) clinched their first championship in organization history with a 8-3 victory over the Columbus Chatt-a-Hoots (15-19) in Game 2 of the Sunbelt Championship at Golden Park Saturday.

The win caps a historic year for Alpharetta which saw them win an organization-record 22 games, qualify for the playoffs and reach the championship series for the first time since 2012, when they were known as the Windward Braves.

For Columbus, their inaugural season ends at 15-19 after a historic run which saw them set numerous Sunbelt attendance records, become the first six-seed to reach the Championship series in League history.  Their 15 wins are the most by a first-year organization since the Phenix City Crawdads won 19 games in 2014, and they are the first team to reach the championship in their inaugural season since Phenix City in 2014.

Jacob Profit went 3-for-4 to lead Alpharetta at the plate.  The sophomore infielder from Reinhardt University was named Championship MVP after going a combined 5-for-8 with two stolen bases in the series.

David Burke went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and Jarrett Jenkins and Andrew Smith both drove in two runs each.

Jesse Donohoe led the Chatt-a-Hoots with three hits, and Josh Heath, Bryce Newman and Cameron Gray each had two with Heath driving in two runs on a home run in the seventh.

Alpharetta jumped out front quickly in the first inning.  Jacob Profit hit a lead-off single and Jarrett Jenkins reached on an error to put runners on first and second.  David Burke then hit a single to left field and advanced to second on the throw, scoring Profit and advancing Jenkins to third before Adam Smith scored Burke and Jenkins with a hit to center field to make it 3-0.

The score remained that way until the fifth as the Aviators made it 6-0 with three runs on two hits and two errors by the shortstop.

Columbus finally scratched a run across in the sixth as Zac Rice hit a one-out double to left field and scored on a Cameron Gray single to right field to cut the deficit to 6-1.  The Hoots had a chance to do more damage as Cole Mathis hit a ground-rule double to put runners on second and third.  But Jeremy Gay struck out Connor O’Neal and induced a flyout to left field by Austin Embrey to end the rally.

Burke made it 7-1 with a bases-loaded single in the seventh, and the Hoots responded in the home half with a two-run homer by Josh Heath to cut the deficit to 7-3. 

The teams endured a 3:08 weather delay in the seventh inning before play resumed, and the Aviators then added one more run in the ninth on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Jarrett Jenkins to make it 8-3.

Aviators starter Tyler McLoughlin pitched 4.2 scoreless innings.  The right-hander from Emory allowed only four hits and a walk with six strikeouts but did not factor into the decision.  Glenn Fletcher (4-1) earned the win in relief. 

Chatt-a-Hoots starter Clay Weatherly (1-1) pitched 4.1 innings and absorbed the loss, allowing five runs, three earned, on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

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