Last updated: April 18. 2014 2:48AM - 429 Views
By Kevin Eckleberry

Senior Hakeem Stargell hit a home run during Thursday's 9-7 win over Sandy Creek.Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
Senior Hakeem Stargell hit a home run during Thursday's 9-7 win over Sandy Creek.Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
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They were reeling.

The LaGrange Grangers, in desperate need of a win as they try to chase down a playoff berth in Region 5-AAAA, found themselves trailing Sandy Creek 7-3 after the second inning on Thursday.

The Grangers had plenty of fight left in them, though.

Jake Howard entered the game in relief in the third inning and threw five shutout innings, and Caleb Buchanan hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning that gave the Grangers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Another senior, Hakeem Stargell, also had a two-run home run for the Grangers.

The Grangers held on for a 9-7 victory, and they moved to 7-5 in the region, leaving them in a tie with Alexander and Troup for third place.

LaGrange is scheduled to visit Troup today, and it will wrap up its region schedule at Carrollton on Tuesday.

“You couldn’t ask for anything more out of them,” LaGrange coach Todd Herrington said. “You hang in there, and you find a way to get it done.”

The Grangers were within a run when Buchanan, one of the seniors who was recognized after the game, stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Buchanan got a hold of a pitch and drove it over the left-field fence for the home run, and the Grangers were up 8-7.

Buchanan said the home run was “very satisfying.”

“It’s senior night, and that’s always exciting, and that put us ahead,” Buchanan said. “We were kind of struggling. That gave us some energy. We were kind of dragging a little bit.”

Howard made sure the lead stood up.

Howard came in and threw strikes, and he managed to hold the Patriots scoreless for five innings, which was a significant accomplishment considering how the game started.

The Patriots hit three home runs in the first two innings.

Cole Jackson hit two home runs, including a grand slam, and his brother, Jared Jackson, also hit a home run.

Howard said his game plan was to “just throw strikes, keep it low, and don’t let the big guys beat you.”

The Grangers added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning, which was important since the Patriots had the heart of their lineup coming up in the seventh inning.

“A two-run lead was nice,” Howard said. “That run in the seventh inning was big.”

The Patriots haven’t won a region game this season, but they’re a dangerous team, largely because of the Jackson brothers.

Those two made an immediate impact with solo home runs in the first inning, and the Patriots were up 2-0.

The Grangers answered with three runs in their half of the first inning.

Stargell tied it with a two-run home run, and Jake Farrar later scored on a wild pitch after reaching on a walk.

Chas Pardue helped move Farrar around with a base hit.

The Patriots jumped back ahead with five runs in the top of the second inning, with Cole Jackson highlighting the rally with his grand slam.

The Grangers came right back with three runs in the bottom of the second.

John Patterson and Jackson Shelnutt walked, and Logan Moody reached on a bunt single to load the bases.

With one out, Farrar’s sacrifice fly drove in a run, and when a fly ball off the bat of Buchanan was dropped by a Sandy Creek outfielder, two more runs scored to cut Sandy Creek’s lead to one.

The Patriots kept that lead until the fourth inning.

Stargell began the inning with a base hit, and two batters later, Buchanan’s home run put the Grangers on top 8-7.

LaGrange capped the scoring in the sixth inning.

Stargell again got things started with a walk, and after moving to third on a Ben Anderson base hit, he scored on a wild pitch.

The Jackson brothers each reached on singles in the seventh inning, but Howard got a groundout to end it.

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