It’s a region sweep for Grangers
LAGRANGE – A week ago, the LaGrange Grangers were reeling a bit after dropping their third consecutive region game.
Following a road loss to the Northside Patriots, the Grangers were 1-4 in Region 1-AAAAA, and they’d dropped all three of their games during the week.
Flash forward seven days, and the feeling is a much different one for the Grangers.
After getting a big come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Hardaway Hawks on Tuesday, LaGrange took care of business with a doubleheader sweep of the Carver Tigers on Friday at Granger Park.
The Grangers won the first game 14-2, and they finished off the sweep with a 10-0 victory.
Cj Harman and Cole Freeman were the pitching standouts for LaGrange.
Harman threw a five-inning complete game in the opener, and Freeman gave up just two hits in a six-inning shutout in the second game.
‘They did a good job,” LaGrange coach David Smart said. “I was pleased with the way they threw the ball and got after it.”
Harman, a senior right-hander, was making his second start of the season.
He threw the ball well in a 6-4 win over Sandy Creek, and he was sharp again on Friday.
After giving up three hits and a walk in the first inning, Harman was dominant after that.
Over his final four innings, Harman surrendered just one hit, and he retired 10 consecutive batters at one point.
“You just try to throw strikes, and let the defense play behind you,” Harman said. “You can’t do anything more than that.”
Harman isn’t a regular part of the Grangers’ pitching rotation, so when he gets a chance to take the mound, he savors it.
“I love it. I just love being out there,” Harman said. “It’s fun to be out there, especially being a senior, knowing this is the last go-around.”
Freeman, a sophomore right-hander, has spent plenty of time on the pitcher’s mound this season, albeit on the junior-varsity level where he’s 4-0.
Friday marked his debut as a varsity pitcher, and he was sensational.
Freeman gave up two hits in six innings, and he struck out 10.
“Coach (Smart) just told me to keep it low,” Freeman said. “Sometimes I don’t stride enough and it gets high. He just told me to throw the ball down the middle, and that’s what I did.”
Freeman has gotten ample varsity playing time as an offensive player, and it was his leadoff hit in the bottom of the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game against Hardaway that sparked the comeback.
Freeman’s favorite place on a baseball field is on the mound, though, and he was thrilled to get the chance to pitch on Friday.
“I love to pitch,” Freeman said. “It’s my favorite spot to play, honestly. I was very excited when (Smart) told me I was pitching.”
In Game 1, Carver struck first with a run in the top of the first, but LaGrange answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
David Sweat was hit by a pitch leading off, Jake Howard followed with a sacrifice bunt, and the first run scored when Ben Anderson reached on an error.
Two batters later, Larkin Easterwood’s sacrifice fly gave the Grangers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
LaGrange busted it open with five runs in the second inning.
Willis Kemp began the rally with a hit, Jacob Vinson and Smart were both hit by pitches, and Howard walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run.
Anderson followed wtih a two-run single, Jake Farrar’s sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 6-1, and the inning’s final run scored when Easterwood reached on an error.
LaGrange scored two more runs in the third inning.
Kemp doubled leading off and later scored on a wild pitch, and Sweat drove in Vinson with a groundout, and the lead was 9-1.
LaGrange completed its scoring with five runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Easterwood’s double got things started, and he scored on Freeman’s triple.
After hits by Kemp and Sweat, Howard and Trevor Norris had back-to-back RBI singles, and Will Pauley capped the five-run outburst with an RBI groundout.
In Game 2, it was close for a while.
LaGrange took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a Farrar RBI single.
It remained a one-run game until the bottom of the fourth when the Grangers scored four runs, and they used the bunt to make it happen.
Champ Willis, Norris, Matthew Anderson and Andrew Askew reached on four consecutive bunt singles, and Amad Ogltree added an RBI groundout in the inning.
LaGrange didn’t need the bunt to score three more runs in the fifth inning.
With one out, Freeman reached on his second triple of the game, and Farrar drove him in with a base hit.
After a Willis single, Norris had an RBI base hit, and the Grangers led 8-0.
LaGrange notched two more runs in the bottom of the sixth it to bring the run rule into play.
Ben Stogner, in his first varsity at-bat, came through with an RBI single, and the game’s 10th and final run scored when Norris reached on an error.
LaGrange will host Harris County on Tuesday in a region game.
OF NOTE: For more photos from Friday’s game, check out facebook.com/LDNsports
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports