Grangers drop tourney opener

Published 12:32 pm Friday, March 3, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – Decatur only had one hit, and that was enough.

On the opening day of the LaGrange Toyota Invitational, Decatur (Ala.) got a solo home run from Ladarius Woods in the fifth inning, and that was the difference in Thursday’s 1-0 victory over the host LaGrange Grangers.

Jackson Lovelace went the distance for Decatur and worked around five hits, while LaGrange got outstanding pitching from Ben Anderson and Jacob Vinson.

The Grangers had their chances to break through, but they were unable to come through with a hit with men on base.

“We didn’t a very good job of executing on that

end,” LaGrange coach David Smart said.

The bright spot for the Grangers was the performance of Anderson and Vinson, who were both terrific.

Anderson got the start and pitched five innings.

Anderson gave up one hit and one walk, and he struck out nine Decatur batters.

Vinson, the side-arming right hander, worked two hitless and scoreless innings to finish it.

“I thought we pitched it well, and we defended good,” Smart said.

The top of the fifth inning began with Anderson striking out the first two batters he faced, and Woods came to the plate with two outs and the bases empty.

Woods got a pitch he could handle, and he drove it way over the left-field fence for the solo home run, and Decatur had the lead.

Anderson walked the next batter before ending the inning with a strikeout.

The Grangers got a base runner at least as far as second base in each of the final three innings, but they were unable to bring the tying run home against Lovelace.

LaGrange’s first legitimate scoring opportunity came in the third inning when Anderson reached on a one-out single, and he was stranded on second base.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Coy Tedescucci led off with a walk, and Vinson followed with a sacrifice bunt to move pinch-runner Trevor Norris to second with one out.

Lovelace got a flyout and a strikeout to end that threat, and Decatur maintained its 1-0 lead.

The Grangers threatened again in the sixth inning.

David Sweat reached on a single leading off the inning, and Matthew Anderson had a one-out hit to put men on first and second with one out.

Lovelace, as he did throughout the game, wiggled out of trouble without allowing a run, and it was a 1-0 game heading to the seventh inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, Vinson had a one-out double, and the Grangers had the tying run at second, but Lovelace got the final two outs to finish off the shutout victory.

LaGrange (4-3) will look for its first tournament victory when it faces Houston County today at 7 p.m. at Granger Park.

LaGrange finishes pool play on Saturday at 10 a.m. against Hewitt-Trussville, and it will have a place game later in the day.