Neither team wanted to call it a night or a season.
The Cavaliers and the Indians bit the bullet, as well as the horsehide on the ball. Callaway High and Chattooga went down jawing and sneering. Both teams played some “blood and guts” baseball in the Class AA State Tournament on Friday night in the loud and electric atmosphere in Hogansville.
The second playoff game between the Cavaliers and Indians was volatile and bitter. The game included a multitude of umpire conferences, as well as huge hits and, of course, controversy.
Callaway High won the game, 6-5 in a seesaw affair at the ball yard. The Cavaliers also wrapped up the first round playoff series, 2-0.
“We knew we had to grind. Chattooga was fighting for its life. Our guys didn’t give up,” said Callaway High head coach Dusty Hubbard.
The Indians didn’t concede either. They played this game and series to the final strike and the last out.
“Our season was on the line, and we hit the ball,” said Chattooga head coach Josh Mitchell. “We weren’t going to quit.”
The Indians tied the game, 4-4, in the bottom of the fifth inning on a Jay Broome RBI double, and some heady and fast base running.
Callaway High went back on top, 6-4 in the top of the sixth on a Braelin Mitchell base-on-balls, a Drake Wade single to left field and a Kyle Campbell two-run double to right field. Jabari Smith also stole third base for the Cavaliers in the inning.
The Cavaliers still had some more work to do. In the bottom of the sixth, Callaway High senior relief pitcher Dylan Johnson picked off Indians base runner Clayton Johnson. The tag was applied by Callaway High catcher Chandler Lott.
“We play to win, and we were ready for whatever,” said Johnson.
But the biggest hurdle of all awaited the Cavaliers in the bottom of the seventh inning. Lott replaced Johnson on the pitching mound. The Indians did rally. Chattooga sophomore Brennon Whitlock was hit by a pitch.
A few pitches later, Broome of the Indians lofted a two-run homer over the left field fence. Or was it a tying homer? As Whitlock and Broome were rounding the bases, something way out of the ordinary happened. Broome tossed his batting helmet before he touched home plate.
After a conference call between the umpires, Broome was called out. Whitlock’s run counted, but Broome’s run did not. So instead of the game being all knotted up at 6-6, Callaway High still led, 6-5. Broome’s home run was reduced to a triple.
The Cavaliers still needed two more outs for the win and the playoff series sweep. And they had a very tired pitcher on the mound with Lott, the Callaway High junior. He was shaky.
“I knew I had to go get it. Chattooga was trying to take it to us. We had to play some hard baseball, but I trust coach (Dusty) Hubbard,” said Lott.
Hubbard let the righthanded Lott stay in the game. That was a wise decision because Lott proceeded to strike out Chattooga sophomore Clayton Johnson and senior Lakelin Pilcher.
The Cavaliers won the game and the playoff series. Lott got the save, as well as some gratitude from Callaway High coach Dusty Hubbard.
“Chandler is a competitor, and he wanted the ball,” said Hubbard, the coach of the 23-8 Cavaliers.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer