Grangers get second straight stellar pitching performance

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 22, 2016

By Kevin Eckleberry

LaGrange High’s Ben Anderson pitched a shutout to lead his team to a 4-0 win over Harris County on Wednesday. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News High’s Ben Anderson pitched a shutout to lead his team to a 4-0 win over Harris County on Wednesday. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

HAMILTON – Another day, another brilliant pitching performance for the LaGrange Grangers.

On Tuesday, Jake Farrar pitched a two-hit shutout as LaGrange outlasted Hardaway 1-0 in a critical Region 1-AAAAA game.

A day later, LaGrange was on the road against Harris County for another key region showdown, and this time it was junior right-hander Ben Anderson getting the pitching assignment.

Anderson, just as his teammate Farrar had done the day before, tossed a seven-inning shutout, and LaGrange beat Harris County 4-0 to greatly enhance its chances of earning one of the region’s four state-playoff invitations.

The Grangers improved to 9-6 in the region, and they’re in fourth place, two games ahead of the Hardaway Hawks, who fell to 7-8 with Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to Columbus.

LaGrange can still finish as high as second in the region if it wins out, and Columbus loses to Hardaway today.

LaGrange will be guaranteed a playoff spot if it wins one of its final games against either Harris County, Hardaway or Carver.

LaGrange is in this position thanks to the phenomenal pitching it has received the past two days.

In Tuesday’s game, LaGrange only scored one run, and it came in the sixth inning.

The Grangers had a bit more offensive success in Wednesday’s game.

They pushed two runs across in the top of the first to stake Anderson to the lead, and they capped the scoring with three runs in the third inning.

That was plenty of support for Anderson, who had his way with Harris County’s hitters, giving up just two hits.

“When he was in the bullpen today, he had a really good air about him,” LaGrange head coach David Smart said. “I talked to him last night, and told him he was going to be pitch. I could tell he was excited. Ben’s not a very emotional kid, but he was really determined. He had a determined look in his eyes. I felt really good about it. He went out there in the first inning and hit his spots and pitched well.”

Anderson, knowing how busy the Grangers are this week with five games on tap, intended on staying on the mound as long as possible.

“I was planning on going as long as I could,” Anderson said. “I knew if I threw well and didn’t throw too many pitches, I’d probably go seven. That’s what happened.”

Anderson has pitched in some big games this season against quality opponents, and he has done well.

Wednesday’s outing was his best of the season, though, and it came at a perfect time.

“It was great,” Anderson said. “I’ve had some pretty good games this year against some pretty good teams. This was the most important, because these last games are the ones that are deciding if we get into the playoffs. I knew I needed to have my top stuff.”

LaGrange started quickly with the two first-inning runs.

“Scoring in the first inning that always helps,” Smart said. “It takes the pressure off.”

Jake Howard got things started with a one-out walk, and after Farrar was hit by a pitch with two outs, Larkin Easterwood came through with a two-run double.

In the two-run third inning, Ben Anderson reached on a one-out single, and Farrar follwoed with an RBI double before Easterwood delivered his second run-scoring hit of the game.

“We had some good timely hits,” Smart said. “And that’s what it takes this time of year. You’ve got to pitch good, and have good defense, and when you get a chance to score, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”

LaGrange will host Harris County today before closing the regular season with two road games.

LaGrange plays Hardaway on Friday, and it will visit Carver on Saturday.

Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports