ABILENE — Cooper pitcher Scotland Church said he didn’t know he had a no-hitter going until catcher Stanton Keane told him.
When that happened, it was too late for Church to think about, as he was getting mobbed by more than two-dozen people at Hunter Field.
“My catcher told me, ‘Hey you just threw a no-hitter,’ and I was down in the middle of the dog pile — It was awesome,” said Church, who struck out 12 and allowed five runners to reach via walk or hit-by-pitch.
Awesome just about sums it up, particularly the magnitude of the victory.
Church tossed a complete-game, no-hitter Thursday to send the Pirates to the state tournament in style, clinching a two-game sweep of Stephenville in the Region I-3A final.
Cooper defeated the Yellow Jackets 8-1 in Game 1 on Thursday before Church’s no-hitter, which came during an 11-0 win.
The Pirates (31-10) will begin play in the tournament in the semifinals at either 1 p.m. or 4 p.m. Wednesday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Church picked up his sixth shutout win this season for a Cooper program record, also snagging his 23rd career win — another Pirate best.
“I can’t say enough about what he did tonight,” said Cooper coach Terry Baxter.
But Church wasn’t the only Pirate deserving of the rambunctious celebration at the end of the series, and Baxter’s praise ranged from the offense, the defense to Ryan Moseley’s pitching in Game 1.
Thursday’s complete performance is a testament to the
potent program Cooper has built just south of Lubbock, and the senior class is ready to leave its mark.
“We’ve been pretty deep in the playoffs the last three years,” Cooper left fielder Chandler Patterson said, “and to finally get to Austin is pretty exciting. We’re pretty pumped.”
Cooper’s offense pounded out 25 hits Thursday, including 14 in the second game.
Patterson and Tyler Parr each hit home runs, and the duo also hit a pair of doubles apiece.
Every Cooper player who had an at-bat Thursday reached base at least once, and nine different Pirates logged hits.
Chase Freeman and Braden Hayward both finished the day with four base knocks, and Church, Parr and Patterson all had three.
While the Pirates didn’t put the first game away until a three-run fifth that made it 6-1, they scored four runs in both the first and third innings of Game 2 to put Austin firmly in their sights.
“It was a little hard at first in the first game because we just got off the bus,” Patterson said, “and in the second game in first inning we really got swinging and it all happened from there.”
After the Pirates plated a run each in the first and second innings of Game 1, home runs by Parr in the fourth and Patterson in the sixth helped ignite a sound victory in Game 1.
From there, Cooper carried the torch that Parr and Patterson ignited into a series romp.
The Pirates scored four runs in the top of the first inning — aided by doubles from Parr and Church — then used six singles to score four more in the third.
Cooper’s early outburst chased pitcher Brock Morrison after 22/3 innings, and reliever Witt Westbrook allowed just two more hits the rest of the way, but Church’s masterful performance was too much for any Stephenville comeback. The Weatherford signee moved to 9-1 on the year
Moseley, who had two hits and three RBIs in the nightcap, pitched a complete-game, six-hitter in Game 1 to earn his 10th win of the season.
Stephenville (23-15-1) threatened Moseley early as the senior right-hander struggled with command. He walked two, hit two batters and made a pair of throwing errors to first trying pick-off batters in the fourth.
His first error, along with a low throw by Church at Shortstop, led to an unearned run in the fourth that made it 2-1.
However, Parr’s homer later in the inning gave Cooper the run back, and Moseley didn’t allow any more runners past second base the rest of the way.
“(Moseley) gave us a really good chance,” Baxter said. “He set the tone for us in the first game. They took some pretty good swings at him. It was a little nerve wracking the way they were swinging the bats against him — he stayed in there and battled.
“You win this kind of stuff with pitching, and both of them set the tone today.”
The Pirates will face the Region III champion in the state semis, which will be either Diboll or Silsbee.
The dog pile at the end of Thursday’s match was the second of the season for the Pirates — the first one was after Cooper clinched its second straight undefeated run through district — but Cooper hopes to add one more pile before its all said and done.
“They played their rear-ends off, but we’re not done, though,” said Baxter, whose 2005 team lost in the championship game. “Now we got to go down to Austin and take a shot at winning the state championship.”
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REGION I-3A FINAL
at Hunter Field, Abilene
COOPER 8, STEPHENVILLE 1
Stephenville 000 100 0 — 1 6 2
Cooper 110 132 x — 8 11 3
Bullard, Bulla (6) and Kinsel; Moseley and C. Goolsby. 2Bs—Cooper, Patterson 2. HRs—Cooper, Parr, Patterson. W—Moseley (10-1). L—Bullard. Records: Stephenville 23-14-1, Cooper 30-10.
COOPER 11, STEPHENVILLE 0
Cooper 404 010 2 — 11 14 0
Stephenville 000 000 0 — 0 0 2
Church and Keane; Morrison, Westbrook (3) and Kinsel. 2Bs—Cooper, Parr 2, Church, Hayward. W—Church (9-1). L— Morrison. Records: Stephenville 23-15-1, Cooper 31-10.