Twice this season, the Troup Tigers took a lead into the seventh and final inning against the Carrollton Trojans.
Sometimes in baseball that final out can be the hardest one to get, though.
The Tigers found that out in their two games with the Trojans.
The Tigers had a 4-2 lead over the Trojans heading into the seventh inning on March 27, but they ended up losing 5-4 in eight innings.
On Friday, the two teams met again, and this time the Tigers carried a 5-4 lead into the seventh inning.
Once again, the Trojans found a way, this time in dramatic, walk-off fashion.
John Gaiter came through with a two-run home run to lift the Trojans to a 6-5 victory.
It was a costly loss for the Tigers, who fell to 5-5 in Region 5-AAAA, leaving them in a three-way tie with LaGrange and Shaw for fourth place.
The Tigers are still in position to snare one of the region’s four playoff spots, though.
Troup has four region games remaining, beginning with today’s scheduled home game against Columbus.
“We’re still in the thick of things,” Troup coach Craig Garner said. “That’s what we talked about today is leaving nothing to chance, and taking care of ourselves and doing what we’re supposed to do.”
After the Columbus game, Troup will visit Fayette County on Thursday before hosting LaGrange on Friday.
Troup completes its region schedule with a game at Shaw on April 22.
Troup would obviously be in much better position if not for the two heart-breaking losses to Carrollton.
On Friday, Troup was trailing 4-2, but it scored two runs in the sixth inning to tie it, and one more run in the seventh inning to take the lead.
Down by one, Carrollton put a base runner on in the bottom of the inning, and Gaiter stepped to the plate.
Gaiter ripped a ball that just stayed inside of the left-field foul pole, and the Trojans had the win.
“I mean, I honestly wasn’t expecting a home run. I’ve only hit one in the past three years. It just happened to be against the same team. But he just threw it in there and I just hit it,” Gaiter told the newspaper in Carrollton. “When I first hit it, I thought it was going to hook foul, but it stayed in. It felt great to win. I was 0-for-2 and hit by a pitch, so it was about time to get a hit in this game.”
Ken Truitt was 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs for the Tigers, and Winston Turner and Tyler Kemp also had two hits with RBIs.
It wasn’t enough, though, and now the Tigers find themselves locked in what appears to be a four-way fight for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Columbus leads the region with a 9-1 record, and Carrollton is a solid second at 8-2.
Alexander is 6-4, and LaGrange, Shaw and Troup are next at 5-5.
“Right now, it’s a situation where we’re going to have to lay it all out there, look at the remaining schedule and how our pitching is going to line up,” Garner said. “All the games are important. It’s just getting the pitching matchups.”