LaGrange wins tournament finale

Published 4:20 pm Monday, March 6, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – They finished in style.

After dropping three hard-fought games to begin their stay in the LaGrange Toyota Invitational, the LaGrange Grangers captured an 8-4 victory over Caledonia (Miss.) on Saturday afternoon at Granger Park.

LaGrange (5-4) has played an extremely challenging schedule this season and it had dropped five straight games before using a fast start to beat Caledonia.

LaGrange, which struggled a bit offensively during the losing streak, scored five runs in the first inning and banged out 11 hits.

“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves,” LaGrange head coach David Smart said. “We wanted to put ourselves in some adverse situations schedule-wise, and we’ve definitely done that. I told the guys today, when you look back this could be either one of the best things that’s happened to us, or one of the worst. It just depends on how we handled it.”

After opening the season with four straight wins, LaGrange fell to Mill Creek and Lambert on Feb. 25 before losing to Decatur (Ala.), Houston County and Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.) in its first three tournament games.

“Even starting last Saturday and through this stretch, it’s been a real grind,” Smart said. “We’ve had some things go against us, just baseball stuff. It’s just one of the things where we’ve got to fight through it. Like I told them, the real season starts in a week and a half (with region play).”

Smart said that in each of the losses, the players have kept their heads up and continued to play the game the right way

“They’ve done a good job of trying to respond in the proper way, and that’s what you want to see,” Smart said. “We’ve just got to work through some things, and figure some things out.”

In Saturday’s first game against a Hewitt-Trussville team that won a state championship in Alabama’s highest classification last season, LaGrange scored a pair of runs in the seventh and final inning, but it lost 8-2.

David Sweat and Champ Willis each walked with the bases loaded to drive in runs.

Later in the day against Caledonia, LaGrange got off to a terrific start with five runs in the first inning, and it added two more runs in the second inning, and one in the fifth.

Ben Anderson had three of the Grangers’ 11 hits, and Willis Kemp and John Crawford each had two hits.

Kemp and Coy Tedescucci each had two RBIs, and Willis also drove in a run.

Tedescucci started and pitched one inning, Charles Crawford threw the next four innings, and Colson Blackburn worked two innings and didn’t allow a run.

OF NOTE: For more photos, check out