By Jeffery Armstrong
For the second time this season, the Lovejoy Wildcats baseball team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Lovejoy held a 5-4 lead for three innings until the bottom of the seventh, but the Wildcats ended up losing to the Union Grove Wolverines 6-5 in Region 4-AAAAA play at Union Grove High Monday evening. The Wildcats (6-11, 1-3 in the region) had a 6-5 lead against the Fayette County Tigers recently, only to end up falling to them 7-6 in the same fashion.
"That's two gut-wrenching losses we've had this year. We've got to learn to play a complete game," said Lovejoy head coach Craig Chatman, visibly dejected. "We played great defense all game, our pitcher had a great game and we wait until the seventh inning to make mistakes."
Lovejoy started out hot against Union Grove (8-6, 2-1) in the first two innings, getting five runs on five hits off Wolverines starting pitcher Michael Wear. Wildcats center fielder Andrew McKibbin singled home Joel Hutcheson for a 1-0 first-inning lead and right fielder Darius Thomas doubled home two more runs for a quick 3-0 lead. In the second inning, Lovejoy starting pitcher Edmond Sparks helped his own cause, smacking a two-run double for a 5-1 lead.
Sparks pitched well during the first three innings, but he did walk several Union Grove batters and he and his catcher Henry Smoke had problems with passed balls and wild pitches. The first four Wolverine runs came on two wild pitches, one passed ball and on catcher's interference with the bases loaded. Sparks walked seven, struck out six and only gave up two earned runs in seven innings; he also went 2-for-4 at the plate with the two RBIs.
Sparks and Wear both held their opponents' scoreless for the next three innings, with each team's defense stepping up. Both teams made a double play, caught runners trying to steal bases and Lovejoy fielders caught balls deep in foul territory for big outs.
The Wildcats were three outs away from getting their seventh win in the Union Grove seventh, but things just didn't work out. Wolverines pinch-hitter Jeremy Riehn hit a shot to right that looked like a sure out for Smoke, who was switched to right field earlier in the game. But Smoke misjudged the ball and it bounced off his glove for a two-base error. New Lovejoy catcher John Weaver bailed out his teammate seconds later by throwing out Riehn's courtesy runner at third base for the first out of the inning. Wolverines right fielder Justin Timbs walked and relief pitcher Cole Williams smacked a triple to the right-field fence, scoring Timbs to tie the game at five. Billy Norman came in to run for Williams and after a strikeout, Wolverines catcher Noah Watkins hit Sparks' first pitch to right to score Norman for the 6-5 victory.
Weaver and McKibbin both scored two runs apiece for Lovejoy.
From Staff Reports
Forest Park 13, South Atlanta 6: Cordaryl Kendrick picked up the win and Greg Ramsey added the save as the Forest Park Panthers improved their record to 7-4 overall and 4-1 in region play.
Several players hit the ball en route to the victory for the Panthers.
Isaiah Froneberger finished the game with five hits, including three triples, a single and a double.
Cody Garner had four hits and two RBIs.
Tony Peaks and Victor Beccerra had two hits each.
Eagle's Landing 11, Dutchtown 3: The Eagle's Landing Golden Eagles baseball team improved their overall record to 6-5 overall and 2-1 in the region with an 11-3 win against Dutchtown.
Henry County 12, Upson Lee 1: Henry County improved to 7-5 overall and 4-1 in region play with a dominating victory Monday night. Austin Peacock went the distance and Blake Newalu and Coleton Segars each homered for the Warhawks en route to the win.