Callaway rallies to beat Handley
By Kevin Eckleberry
HOGANSVILLE – He got a pitch he could handle, and he made Handley pay.
Callaway’s Ben Griffin broke open a tie game with an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Dylan Johnson set Handley down in the top of the seventh inning as the home team earned a 5-4 victory on a pleasant Monday afternoon.
It was the sixth straight win for Callaway (11-7), which won’t play again until March 28 when it visits Lamar County.
In Monday’s game, Callaway twice fought back from a two-run deficit to beat Handley for the second time this season.
Callaway beat Handley 3-2 on March 9 to begin its winning streak.
“I’m so happy for our kids, because I thought we learned to fight a little bit today,” Callaway head coach Dusty Hubbard said. “We kept getting down, but we just kept fighting them.”
Monday’s win was particularly impressive since Handley’s starting pitcher is an Auburn signee, and Callaway got to him for four runs.
“We feel if we can beat him, we can beat anybody,” said senior outfielder Milton Turner, who scored two runs. “We’re starting to hit the ball more.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Turner reached first, and that brought Griffin to the plate.
“I’d made a couple of errors earlier in the game, and I was kind of upset about it,” said Griffin, a right fielder. “I wanted to go up there and do something big for my team. I just thought fastball, and I took it to left field.”
The ball made it to the outfield fence, and the speedy Turner scored easily to give Callaway its first lead of the game.
In the top of the seventh, it was a bit of déjà vu.
In the earlier game against Callaway, Handley had the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second with Johnson on the mound.
In that game, Johnson got a strikeout to end the game and give Callaway the win.
In Monday’s game, Handley once again had the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second with Johnson pitching.
This time, Johnson got a pop-up for the final out, and Callaway secured the hard-earned win.
Johnson pitched two scoreless innings to get the win after Chandler Lott and Kyle Campbell pitched five effective innings between them.
Lott got the start, and after giving up two runs in the first inning, he threw a scoreless second inning.
Campbell threw the next three innings before Johnson finished things off.
“They did what we needed them to do,” Hubbard said of the three pitchers. “We had some tough luck, but you’ve just got to pitch through it, and I thought they did a good job of doing that.”
Trailing 2-0, Callaway tied it with two runs in the bottom of the second.
Turner reached on an infield error leading off, and he stole second and third before scoring on a wild pitch to put Callaway on the board.
“I’m looking to put pressure on the defense, just wreak havoc and try to put one on the board,” Turner said.
With two outs, Drake Wade walked, and after moving up a base on a passed ball, Campbell drove the ball to left field for an RBI base hit, and the score was tied.
Handley scored single runs in the third and fourth innings to go up 4-2, but once again Callaway rallied.
Wade reached on error to begin the bottom of the fifth, and he scored on a wild pitch to get the Cavaliers within one.
After Johnson and Slone Raper walked, Lott came through with a clutch two-out RBI single to deadlock the score once again.
Johnson worked around a two-out walk in the top of the sixth to keep the game tied, and Callaway took the lead in the bottom of the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Handley had an infield single and a walk to put two men on, but Johnson was up to the challenge.
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