By Anthony Rhoads
This week has been a reversal of fortune for the Luella baseball team.
The Lions entered the week as the No. 1 team in Region 5-AAA and the No. 7 team in the gabaseball.net Class AAA state poll.
But on Monday, the Westminster swept the Lions in first-round action of the region tournament and Friday, Banneker beat the Lions 6-3 in the consolation game.
Luella will enter the Class AAA state playoffs as the No. 4 seed. The Lions will play at LaGrange next Friday and Saturday in a best-of-three series in first round action. LaGrange enters state as the No. 1 team out of Region 6-AAA.
"We didn't come to play," Luella head coach Andy Cooper said. "I don't think we gave much of an effort and I'm disappointed in that. I'm very disappointed."
Banneker took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning but Luella responded in the bottom half of the inning.
Jordan Freeman led off with a single and was moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by Josh Heath. Wade Lane stepped to the plate and single to score Freeman, tying the game.
Banneker scored three in the top of the sixth and again Luella responded but wasn't able to tie the game.
Scott Linginfelter led off by reaching on an error and with one out, Freeman doubled. Heath followed with a two-run single, scoring Linginfelter and Freeman.
Luella was able to load the bases but couldn't get any more runs across the plate.
Banneker added to more runs in the top of the seventh to take the 6-3 victory.
"We've had a rough week but we've faced our share of adversity," Cooper said. "We're going to have to have a good practice week next week; I guarantee you that."
Cooper looks forward to taking on LaGrange, which made the Class AAA semifinals last year.
"They're a very good team and I have a lot of respect for coach (Donnie) Branch," Cooper said. "He does a good job over there. It's going to be a good experience regardless of what happens. It will give our younger guys to see what they need to do to be successful over the next few years."
Luella is in its first year and is one of four Henry County teams going to the state playoffs.
Henry County and Stockbridge will play in the Class AAAAA state tournament while Union Grove will play in the Class AA state tournament.
Eagle's Landing is the only Henry County team not to make it to the GHSA state playoff this year but the Golden Eagles were in the hunt for playoff berth until the last game of the season when they lost to Stockbridge for the final spot out of Region 2-AAAAA.
"It's always good to see so many teams from Henry County make the playoffs," Cooper said. "It's just shows what kind of baseball we have in our area."