COLUMBIA — After a month of growth, and in some cases taking their lumps, the Capital City Cavaliers earned their first sweep of the summer baseball season, beating Fulton 10-8 in four innings and 6-2 in five innings Thursday evening.
Capital City staged a comeback in the first game and nearly led wire-to-wire in the second, using patience at the plate, aggressive baserunning, timely hitting and strong pitching, particularly in the second game, to earn the sweep.
"Came out flat a little bit, early," Cavaliers assistant coach Adam Grunden said. "But we found a way to win. That's baseball. You're going to have to find ways to do it."
In Game 1 for the Cavs, that meant staging comebacks.
Fulton started things off with two singles and a walk to load the bases with none out, then built a 3-0 lead with a single and a fielder's choice. Capital City answered with a two-out walk and an error by the Hornets' third baseman, then both runs scored on wild pitches to make it 3-2 after one inning.
Neither team scored in the second, but Fulton batted around in the third, plating four runs on three hits, an error and two walks.
Jaden Chapman started the home third with a single, Brett Kuebler reached on a dropped third strike and after Chapman took third easily on a wild pitch, Ben Turner sent him home with an RBI single. Kuebler scored on a wild pitch, Grayson Jones walked and then took second on a wild pitch, and Cooper Rowden hit a two-run single into the hole between second and first. Rowden later came home when an errant throw down as he was stealing third went into left field, and the gap was 7-6 Hornets after three.
Rowden also gave up two runs in four innings as the Game 2 starter.
"Played really well," Grunden said of Rowden. "Kept his head in, solid defender, solid pitcher, can throw more than one pitch. Threw strikes when we needed him to, had a couple big hits, quick on the bases, so yeah, all-around pleased with him today."
The Cavs brought Kade Helmick on in relief for the fourth inning, who allowed just one hit and one walk and didn't let Fulton's lead get bigger than 8-6.
Colin Flaherty laid down a bunt single and went to second on an error by the pitcher to start Capital City's fourth, then stole third. Caydin Engelbrecht hit a sacrifice fly to left to make it a one-run deficit, and after walks to Chapman and Helmick, Chapman scored the tying run on a wild pitch and Helmick scored what would turn out to be the winning run on an error. The game ended by time limit, so it was not a walk-off win, and the Cavs added an insurance run before the end of the game.
Rowden stymied the Hornets in Game 2, allowing no runs and four baserunners through the first three innings. His teammates gave him a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, and again answered the Hornets' two runs in the top of the fourth with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning.
Flaherty came on with runners on first and second and nobody out in the top of the fifth, got a comebacker for the first out, loaded the bases with a walk, then struck out a batter looking and ended the game on a flyout to center.
Chapman and Turner continued their consistency at the top of Capital City's order and on the left side of its defense. Chapman hit 3-for-4 across both games with a double, three runs scored and three RBI. Turner was 2-for-4 while also doubling and scoring three runs, and drove in two of his own. Both were also not shy about taking extra bases when the opportunity presented itself.
"It's nice having that blanket over there, both offensively and defensively, you can count on them, trust them to get the job done," Grunden said. "They're going to have to step up and be leaders, they're the older crowd, so the job is earned right now, but a lot of work to be done still."
Capital City will host Hallsville's JV team on Tuesday for a doubleheader starting at 6 p.m.