It was a game the LaGrange Grangers knew they had to have if they’re going to make the state playoffs.
Facing a do-or-die scenario against the rival Troup Tigers, the Grangers got it done.
With Logan Hood delivering the latest in a long line of stellar pitching performances this season, the Grangers outlasted the Tigers 3-2 to move to 8-5 in Region 5-AAAA.
If the Grangers beat the Carrollton Trojans today, they’re in the playoffs.
The Grangers could also still make it in with a loss, but head coach Todd Herrington said no one is thinking that way.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way right now,” Herrington said. “I want to take care of business ourselves, and not have to rely on anybody else.”
The Grangers, after falling to 4-5 in the region with four straight losses, have ripped off four consecutive wins to get in this position.
Herrington said no one is celebrating, though.
“The bottomline is, we have to go out and do it again tomorrow,” Herrington said. “We have to be focused on tomorrow. That’s the way the whole season has been.”
Carrollton also has plenty to play for today.
With Columbus losing to Alexander on Monday, Carrollton is in position to win a region title with a victory over LaGrange.
“They’re playing for a region title, we’re playing to get in,” Herrington said. “That’s what it boils down to.”
On Monday, Hood was a big part of the story.
Hood has proven to be an exceptional big-game pitcher this season, and that was certainly the case against Troup.
Hood held the Tigers to four hits, and after giving up two runs in the second inning, he threw five innings of shutout baseball.
Hood out-dueled Winston Turner, who pitched seven stellar innings for Troup.
“Hood, competed his guts out on the mound. We played pretty solid defense behind him. I was real proud of their effort defensively,” Herrington said. “And I give credit to Turner. He’s good. He’s not going to overpower you or anything, but he throws strikes and puts it where he wants it. And he keeps teams off-balance. It was just a hard-fought ballgame, and we were fortunate to come out on top.”
The Grangers struck first with a pair of runs in the top of the first inning.
Logan Moody got the rally started when he made it to second base on an outfield error.
After a Hakeem Stargell hit, Jake Farrar and Caleb Buchanan each grounded out to drive in runs.
“That’s just we tell a guy, get the ball in play on the ground,” Herrington said.
The Tigers tied it at 2-2 in the second inning on a Brannon Weathers hit, and it remained deadlocked until the sixth inning when LaGrange pushed the winning run across.
Freshman Ben Anderson, who had three hits, had a one-out triple, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Hood.
The Tigers had their chances in the final two innings to tie it or take the lead, but Hood and the Grangers were up to the challenge.
In the seventh inning, the Tigers loaded the bases with two outs, but Hood got a strikeout to end the game.
“I’m very proud of them,” Herrington said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more from a group of guys. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, a roller-coaster ride, lots of emotions on and off the field. The bottomline is, you put it together, and you believe in one another.”