By Derrick Mahone
Eagle's Landing Christian Academy coach Doug Campbell debated if he was going to start pitcher Corey Westover after he arrived late at the ballpark.
Westover was waiting on a teammate to pick him up after suffering car trouble on his way to Union Grove Thursday for a non-region game.
The junior arrived at the game just in time. Westover went 5 2/3 innings in a 9-6 win over Henry County rival Union Grove Thursday.
After the game, Campbell was happy he didn't scratch Westover's start.
"He's a pretty laid-back kid," Campbell said. "I wasn't that worried about him. Since the game was so close to the school, I allowed the kids to drive over. After his car broke down, Corey had to call someone to pick him up."
It helped that Westover went to the mound in the bottom of the first with a 2-0 lead, thanks to Patrick Long's two-run homer. The Chargers, ranked sixth in Class A in the latest coaches' poll, held a 9-0 lead into the fifth inning.
"That home run was big for us," Campbell said. "It set the tone early. It sort of broke the ice. It allowed us to relax a little. We didn't have to start in the hole. I think it really helped Corey since he was rushed to get here."
Long's home run came off of longtime friend Adam Lass, who pitched 4 2/3 innings for the Wolverines. He had four strikeouts and give up all nine runs on seven hits.
"It felt great to get a lead on them," Long said. "Coach kept saying that we had to jump on them early. I've been buddies with Adam for a long time. He just hung a curve ball up there. Our pitchers pitched great the who game. It was a good win for us."
The Chargers, who has won four of the last five games against Union Grove, jumped to a 9-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth. After striking out the leadoff hitter in the fifth, Westover would get into some trouble by giving up three straight hits, including a triple to Brice Merritt.
In all, the Chargers give up six runs on five hits.
Campbell said some fielding mistakes contributed to the Wolverines' big inning.
"He (Westover) was OK on his pitch count and could have went another inning," Campbell said. "He had some out pitches, but we didn't make the play. If we had made the plays, he could have stayed in the game. We just didn't want him to give up the big hit."
The Wolverines looked as if they was going to rally in the bottom of the seventh, but fell a couple runs short. Jordan Akins lead off the inning with a single and Logan Smith followed with a walk. After ELCA relief pitcher Kevin Martin struck out Craig Worley, he would give up a walk to Merritt for Akins to score.
Union Grove shortstop would strikeout on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded to end the game.
"We knew Union Grove would make a run at it," Campbell said. "I was worried that we would make some mistakes. When you are up nine runs, you got to get some outs. This is a cross town rivalry. We look at it as a friendly rivalry. Although all the kids know each other, we take it serious."