By Kevin Price
Special to the Daily
JESUP – For the second straight year the Ola High baseball team saw its season come to an end in the second round of the Class AAAA state tournament.
On Wednesday night, the Mustangs swept were by Wayne County in a doubleheader at Howard Bo Warren Field, falling 11-5 and then 7-4 in 10 innings in the nightcap.
"We fought hard. Things just didn't fall our way," said Ola coach Ryan Parejko. "We played hard like we have all year."
Last year, Ola lost in round two to South Effingham, a Region 2-AAAA team. This year, it was the third-ranked Yellow Jackets (27-3), the Region 2-AAAA champions, who eliminated them.
Wednesday's second-game loss was a heartbreaker for top-ranked Ola (25-6) who trailed 4-3 entering in the bottom of the seventh but rallied to tie the score and force extra innings. Bobby Woodall led off with a walk, setting the stage for Brad Blount who hammered a double off the fence in center that nearly left the park to end the game, scoring pinch runner John Winters with the tying run.
It looked like Ola might force a decisive third game today when Cameron Lewis hit a one-out liner into center, but Wayne center fielder Colby Dent made a perfect throw to the plate to gun down Blount who tried to score from second for the second out. Ola still managed to load the bases, but Wayne's Tyler Palmer struck out the final batter to send the game into extras.
The score remained deadlocked 4-4 until the 10th when Wayne's Adrian Palmer led off with a walk and scored on a homer to left by Tyler Palmer for a 6-4 lead. Cleanup man Casey Kicklighter then followed with another homer high over the fence in left for a 7-4 cushion.
Those homers were the fourth and fifth of the game for Wayne, which hit seven dingers on the day. Kicklighter's homer was his second of the game and third of the day. He has a single-season 18 homers for the Jackets.
Tyler Palmer (7-0) worked all 10 innings for Wayne, striking out nine.
"I feel great right now, but in the morning I probably won't feel too good," he said.
Woodall took the loss for Ola, holding the Jackets scoreless over four innings of relief before tiring in the 10th.
In the opener, both teams came out swinging hot bats as they combined for 10 runs and 13 hits in the first two innings.
Ola scored two runs in the top of the first on four hits and two walks while sending eight batters to the plate. Blount drove in the team's first run with a single to right, and two batters later, Cody Atkins also singled through the right side to drive in the second run.
The Jackets would strike for three runs in their first at-bat after two outs were recorded. Kicklighter brought home the first run with a double through the middle. He would score on a throwing error before Jordan Moody delivered a single to left to plate the third run.
The Mustangs came right back to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the second when Dylan McCarter ripped a two-run single through the middle with two outs and the bases loaded.
But again, the Jackets would score three times in the second on four hits with all of their runs coming after two were out. Adrian Palmer brought in the first run with a single to left. Then after the Jackets loaded the bases, Hunter Thompson laced a liner over second that scored two more runs for a 6-4 lead.
Ola would manage just one run on three more hits the rest of the way against Thompson, who went the distance on the mound for the home team while running his record to 9-0 for the season.
The Jackets, meantime, opened up an 8-4 lead in the fifth when Moody drove a two-out two-run homer over the fence in left to score Quabo Brown, who was running for Thompson, who reached on a one-out double to right.
Wayne added three insurance runs in the seventh after Ola scored a single run in the sixth. Colby Dent led off the inning with a double and scored on another double by Tyler Palmer. Kicklighter then followed up Palmer's hit with a homer to right for the 11-5 lead.
Darrell Dickey took the pitching loss for Ola. He started and lasted five full innings before being lifted in the sixth. Dickey allowed nine runs on 11 hits while striking out three.