Ultimately it came down to execution.
The Springwood School from Lanett, Ala. just made more plays than LaGrange Academy did. That showed up big time on the field, on the scoreboard and in the hearts of the players.
LaGrange Academy did not feel good about anything after losing to the Wildcats, 19-1 in an Alabama versus Georgia high school baseball matchup on Tuesday night at the Warriors field.
“We were not fielding the ball, and we have some inexperience,” said LaGrange Academy junior shortstop Mason Brown.
The defense came and went for the Warriors. Springwood scored its second run of the night on a LaGrange Academy fielding error. The third Wildcat run of the game would come home on a Warrior wild pitch.
LaGrange Academy made another fielding boo boo in the top of the third inning. And in the fourth inning, Springwood scored its 13th run of the contest on a Warrior throwing error.
The effort was there for LaGrange Academy, but the precision was not. The Warriors did load the bases in the bottom of the first inning. They had a chance for a monster inning.
Jake Keeble walked and stole second base for the Warriors. This is a LaGrange Academy team with some baseball ability. Warrior third baseman Nick Keating would follow with a walk, putting runners on first and second.
The rally was underway. Brown would then single to center field to load the bases for LaGrange Academy. Warrior first baseman Evan Smith followed by flying out to deep left field.
LaGrange Academy missed a chance to score on a tag up. It didn’t happen. But the Warriors did score a run on a Riley Hess basesloaded walk and RBI. La-Grange Academy could not do any more damage in the inning, however.
Scoring just one run after loading the bases seemed to be deflating for the Warriors, who had very few base runners the rest of the game. LaGrange Academy managed just one more hit off of Wildcat junior pitcher Chandler Champion the rest of the night.
Hess did single to center field in the fourth inning for LaGrange Academy. But it was the Wildcats who scored in the first five innings of the game. The Wildcats scored two runs in the first, two runs in the second inning, seven runs in the third inning, four runs in the top of the fourth and four runs in the fifth inning.
Springwood would win this game with the “run rule.” And the Wildcats did outhit the Warriors, 15-2. Springwood was hitting some zingers through the proceeding with a Preston Messer double in the first inning, a Messer run-scoring single in the second inning, a Sam Bradfield three-run triple in the third inning and a Noah West RBI double in the top of the fourth.
“We had the focus. We took the game serious. We waited on some good pitches (to hit),” said Wildcats head coach Colby Terry.
Springwood also tripled twice in the top of the fifth inning. Going the extra base route were Springwood’s Chandler Champion and West. The Wildcats also played some “small ball” in the game.
Six of the Wildcats 15 hits did not leave the infield. Springwood had a half-dozen infield singles, including four in the third inning with hits from Champion, Preston Messer, West and Dylan Anderson.
Champion, the senior pitcher, also threw a twohitter for the Wildcats. Champion struck out five, walked three and allowed one run.
“I got the ball in the zone, and my off speed pitches were working,” said Champion.
LaGrange Academy took one on the chin and the back side. The Warriors are 1-4 on the year. They are looking to up their game.
“We had just lost a player due to an injury, and that weighed on us,” said La-Grange Academy head baseball coach Brandon Lybrand.
The Warriors lost senior pitcher and first baseman Brandon Haynes due to a broken ankle. The 19-1 loss to Springwood didn’t help.
“This was a tough game. We need to put the right pieces in the right places. We need to regroup,” said Lybrand.
The Warriors coach thinks his team will do that. La- Grange Academy still has a chance to make the state playoffs in the Georgia Independent School Association.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer