It’s the end of the road for the LaGrange Grangers.
After knocking off Northwest Whitfield in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs, the Grangers were hoping to pull off another road win in the second round against Lanier.
It wasn’t meant to be, though.
Lanier got off to a fast start in the series with a 12-1 victory, and it wrapped things up with a 5-2 win.
Lanier advances to the quarterfinals to face Veterans, while LaGrange’s season comes to a close.
While disappointed to see the season end, LaGrange head coach Todd Herrington was proud of the way his team responded to adversity.
The Grangers hit a mid-season slide that left them on the verge of missing the playoffs, but they closed the regular season with a flourish to make the playoffs as Region 5-AAAA’s number four seed.
LaGrange then knocked off Northwest Whitfield, the champion of Region 7-AAAA, to make it to the second round.
LaGrange missed out on the playoffs a year ago.
“I hate to lose, and anybody who is a competitor hates to lose, but I will say that I am so proud of this team,” Herrington said. “From fighting back the way we did, and being determined, and refusing to lose was kind of the attitude we had there for a long time. And it never ran out. I couldn’t be prouder of a bunch of guys than I am of this group.”
Herrington also said he’s appreciative of what the seven seniors brought to the team.
“I’m thankful for the seniors who put us back into this thing,” Herrington said. “They led us back into the playoff picture, and it helped give our younger guys a perspective of what it’s like to be there. That’s a program builder. This group of seniors is a part of something really big in our program, to help us get back to that point.”
Lanier, meanwhile, was hosting a playoff series for the first time in school history, and it delivered an impressive performance.
The first game was a mismatch, with Lanier scoring five runs in each of the second and third innings to turn it into a blowout.
LaGrange scored a run in the top of the second to get within a run, but Lanier dominated the rest of the game.
The game ended after five innings because of the run rule.
The second game was much more competitive.
LaGrange, which was the home team in Game 1, jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning with Caleb Buchanan’s double bringing in Logan Moody.
Lanier responded with three runs in the top of the second inning to go up 3-1.
Trailing 5-1, LaGrange scored a run in the sixth inning with Buchanan driving in Jake Farrar, but Lanier still had a three-run lead.
LaGrange went down in order in the seventh inning, and Lanier had the win.
“Sometimes, you just get beat, and that’s what happened today,” Herrington said. “We are better than how we played today, but at the same time, I give credit to Lanier. They’re a well-coached team, they run a first-class program. Today, we got beat by a better team. I’m not saying they are better, but today they were. You play baseball long enough, you’re going to have a bad day, and I thought we had a bad day today. It was just at a bad time.”