Frustrating day for Grangers
GAINESVILLE – It was all about lost opportunities for the LaGrange Grangers.
The Grangers were swept by the Gainesville Red Elephants on Wednesday in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs, and a big reason why was because of all the men they left on base.
LaGrange left nearly 30 men on base in the two games combined, and it left runners in scoring position in 11 of the 14 innings.
Six times the Grangers had a runner at third with fewer than two outs and they were unable to score, and they out-hit the Red Elephants 21-10 in the two games combined.
Gainesville had the upper-hand in the only stat that mattered, though.
Gainesville won the first game 6-3, and it got two early runs in the second game and made that lead stand up on the way to a 2-1 victory to win the series.
Wednesday’s sweep marked the end of what was a successful season for the Grangers under first-year head coach David Smart.
LaGrange (17-13) finished third in Region 1-AAAAA to earn its playoff spot, and it outlasted Union Grove in a dramatic first-round series to advance to the round of 16.
After splitting the first two games with Union Grove, LaGrange won the third and deciding game 7-6 in nine innings.
LaGrange was hoping to build on that momentum and win a playoff series on the road for the second straight time, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Here’s a look at Wednesday’s games.
LaGrange struck first.
Ben Anderson led off the top of the first inning with a base hit, and after Jake Howard reached on a fielder’s choice, Larkin Easterwood’s RBI single gave the Grangers a 1-0 lead.
Gainesville answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, though, and it scored three more runs in the second inning to build a 5-1 lead.
LaGrange got one of those runs back in the third inning on an Easterwood sacrifice fly, and Gainesville’s lead was down to 5-2.
The Grangers got closer in the fourth inning.
David Sweat singled and scored on Anderson’s double, and the Grangers were within two.
After the Red Elephants built the lead to 6-3, the Grangers threatened in the seventh inning when they loaded the bases, but the game ended on a pop-out with the tying run on first.
Jacob Vinson was terrific in relief for the Grangers, allowing no runs during his five-plus innings on the mound.
Anthony Carrera hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning, and that was all the offense Gainesville needed.
Once again the Grangers had all sorts of scoring opportunities, but they could only manage one run, and that came in the bottom of the second inning.
Champ Willis was hit by a pitch, and he later scored on a Matthew Anderson base hit to trim Gainesville’s lead to 2-1.
LaGrange pitcher Ben Anderson was sharp and kept his team in the game, but Gainesville was able to hang on for the one-run win.
LaGrange had at least one hit in every inning, and it stranded two base runners in all but one inning.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports