By Jeffery Armstrong
Lovejoy third baseman Brandon Perry told his teammates that he would have a good game Friday night.
"I told the guys earlier today in the weight room that I going to go 4-for-4 tonight," said Perry, a junior.
Perry didn't achieve that stat, but he did go 3-for-3 with three runs scored, helping the Lovejoy Wildcats defeat the Riverdale Raiders 5-2 at Riverdale in Region 4-AAAA action Friday night.
Perry had two singles, a double and a walk in the game.
"I was focused and I came out ready to play, especially after my bad game against Jonesboro," said Perry. "I wanted to get some hits."
The Wildcats belted nine hits off Riverdale pitcher Josh Riggins, including four extra-base hits. Riggins went the distance, giving up five runs (four earned) while walking three and striking out one. Wildcats' pitcher Anthony Routh was solid, also pitching all seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits. He walked two, struck out six and hit two batters. He struck out three of the last six Riverdale batters.
"I can't say enough about how well Anthony pitched tonight," said Lovejoy head coach Craig Chatman. "He was efficient and he was clutch."
Lovejoy (3-6) is 1-0 in the region with the win, while Riverdale (5-4) had its five-game winning streak snapped. The Raiders are 1-1 in region play.
Riverdale started the scoring in the first inning. Raiders catcher James Jordan (1-for-1, 1 run scored, 2 HBP) singled and advanced to second on an error by one of the Lovejoy outfielders. Left fielder D.J. Askew then ripped a triple into left-center, scoring Jordan for a 1-0 lead.
Lovejoy came right back in the top of the second. Center fielder Ethan Waters doubled with one out. Right fielder Jeremy Kostka singled, but was forced out at second on designated hitter Truett O'Neal's grounder. Waters advanced to third on the force out. Riggins then balked Waters home, tying the game at one.
Riverdale let a golden opportunity to score slip by in the bottom of the third. With one out, third baseman Trey Hooks (2-for-3, 1 RBI) doubled and Jordan was hit by a pitch from Routh. They both advanced to second and third on a double steal. Askew hit a grounder to Routh who threw to Lovejoy first baseman Stephen Douglas for the second out. Douglas then fired a shot to Wildcats catcher Kenneth Robinson, who tagged Hooks at home plate for the third out.
Lovejoy seized the momentum after its big defensive inning to score the winning runs in the top of the fourth. Perry doubled, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a single by Waters (2-for-4, 1 run scored, 1 RBI). Douglas walked, advanced to second on Waters' hit, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a grounder by Kostka to lead 3-1. Perry scored the last two runs for Lovejoy on a sacrifice fly by Kostka and a double by Douglas.
Riverdale right fielder Keith Hyche scored the Raiders' second run on a single by Hooks.
"This was a good ballgame. Lovejoy executed well and had solid performances," said Riverdale head coach Kelcey White. "I'm not disappointed with our effort. We just didn't play our best game tonight."