By Jeffery Armstrong
FAYETTEVILLE ? The Eagle's Landing Golden Eagles baseball team came to town Saturday feeling good with a 1-0 series lead in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
They left disappointed, however, as the Fayette County Tigers whipped them in two straight games to eliminate the Eagles and advance to the state quarterfinals against South Gwinnett.
"I think we awoke a sleeping giant," said Eagle's Landing head coach Blake Lyons. "That's just the nature of baseball. We had it going on earlier; now they were the ones who made the plays instead of us."
Fayette County 10, Eagle's Landing 2 (Game 2): Facing a must-win situation, the Tigers cranked out 11 hits off Eagle's Landing pitchers Adam Fine and Marcel Fearon and got a complete-game four-hitter from pitcher Joseph Edens to win 10-2 in game two on Saturday. Eagle's Landing hurt its own cause by committing five errors in the game. Fayette scored first on a two-run, first-inning home run by senior left-fielder Lee Hyde, a Georgia Tech signee. Eagle's Landing answered in the bottom of the first with a two-run homer by first baseman Luke Murton after third baseman Matt Glass doubled. Those would be the only runs Eagle's Landing would score for the game.
The Tigers scored eight runs in the final three innings and Edens held Eagle's Landing to two more hits in the contest. Edens retired the last 10 batters he faced.
"I was feeling good today and I was focused," said Edens. "It wasn't just my win. I got plenty of help from my teammates; they were crushing the ball."
Fayette center fielder Jeff Crisp, playing with a partially dislocated left shoulder, scored the game-winning run from third on a passed ball. Crisp went 2-for-5 with two runs scored in the game. The speedy Crisp also had three stolen bases. Other Tigers with two hits were Hyde (2-for-3, two runs, two RBIs), catcher Jason Hardwick (2-for-2, one run) and designated hitter Steven West (2-for-4, one run, two-run homer).
Fayette County 11, Eagle's Landing 1 (Game 3): Once again Jeff Crisp was a thorn in the side of the Golden Eagles, going 2-for-4 and scoring three runs as the Tigers socked the Eagles 11-1 in a game that was called after five innings. With the win, Fayette (25-5) advances and Eagle's Landing (20-10) was eliminated from postseason play.
"I just had to step up as a senior and show some leadership," said Crisp. "I felt confident that I would get a hit each at-bat."
The Tigers once again pounded Eagle's Landing pitching, this time getting six runs off Michael Sanders on seven hits. Tigers' shortstop David Owens and first baseman Rickey Williams both homered off the left-field scoreboard in the game. Williams was 2-for-2 with one run scored and four RBIs. Sanders left with the score at 6-1 in the fourth.
The Tigers had six more hits off two more Eagles pitchers, Nathan Christenson and David Lane, scoring five runs in the fifth to put the game away. Fittingly, Crisp scored the final run of the game off an error.
"We hit the ball well today," said Fayette head coach Robert Townsend. "We came out focused and we didn't want to lose. Jeff did a great job today n he hurt his shoulder in game one, but he worked on it and kept going."