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Cavaliers open region play with shutout win

By Kevin Eckleberry

keckleberry@civitasmedia.com

Callaway’s Josh Hanson pitches in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s 6-0 victory over Haralson County. Hanson pitched the final two innings of the Region 5-AAA game. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_callaway3.jpgCallaway’s Josh Hanson pitches in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s 6-0 victory over Haralson County. Hanson pitched the final two innings of the Region 5-AAA game. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
Callaway’s Slone Raper started and pitched five shutout innings against Haralson County. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_callaway4.jpgCallaway’s Slone Raper started and pitched five shutout innings against Haralson County. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
Callaway’s Xavier Smith arrives at second base during the sixth inning of Tuesday’s win over Haralson County. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_callaway2.jpgCallaway’s Xavier Smith arrives at second base during the sixth inning of Tuesday’s win over Haralson County. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

HOGANSVILLE – Haralson County’s hitters had no chance.

The Cavaliers got a dominant pitching performance from Slone Raper and Josh Hanson on the way to a 6-0 home victory over the Rebels in the Region 5-AAA opener for both teams.

It was an impressive effort for the Cavaliers (6-3), who have won three in a row since dropping back-to-back games to Harris County and Troup.

Raper got the start and pitched five shutout innings, and Hanson finished things off with two scoreless innings.

When Callaway’s pitchers have gotten into trouble this season, it’s usually been because of wildness, but that wasn’t an issue in Tuesday’s game.

“I think we walked one guy,” Callaway head coach Dusty Hubbard said. “We talk so much about that, and finally we do the right thing. It shows you how much easier the game is (when you throw strikes). Both of those guys did a really good job.”

Callaway first baseman Cortney Laye said having Raper and Hanson in such good form provided a major lift for the team.

“That was big,” Laye said. “Those two guys really set the whole game up. We didn’t give up that many hits or walks. Anytime you can win in that aspect of the game, and the pitchers are pitching like that, you’ve got a pretty good chance of winning.”

Raper pitched five innings, and he gave up just three hits and one walk, and Hanson allowed one hit and didn’t walk anyone.

The Cavaliers scored the only run they’d need in the bottom of the first, with Laye coming through with a two-out, RBI single.

Devin Brock led off with a single and scored on Laye’s hit.

“I felt like that was big,” Laye said. “It got everybody going, and got us up in the first inning. We kept on building on it. It was a great win as a team.”

Hubbard said getting that two-out hit at the start of the game “kind of set the tone.”

“We get a guy at third with two outs, and he cuts his swing down and gets a base hit to left field,” Hubbard said. “And after that, we started grinding at them a little bit.”

In a two-run second inning, Javoski Leverette had an RBI single in the inning, and Raper and Ty McCann both had hits as well.

Callaway capped the scoring with three runs in the fifth inning.

Brock had an RBI single, and McCann knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly.

It was a complete effort for the Cavaliers, who pitched the ball well, played solid defense, got clutch hits and did a great job on the base paths.

“I thought we did a good job of taking the extra base on them, too. We need to be good at that,” Hubbard said. “If we can play like that, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good.”

The same two teams will meet again on Friday, with Haralson County hosting a doubleheader at 4:30 p.m.

Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports