Cavaliers set for title showdown
By Kevin Eckleberry
HOGANSVILLE – Bring on Heard County.
The Callaway Cavaliers dispatched Jordan on Thursday in a doubleheader, setting up next week’s showdown with Heard County for the Region 5-AA championship.
Callaway (17-7 overall) will bring a 9-0 region record into the three-game series, while Heard County is 7-0 in the region heading into today’s doubleheader against Temple.
The series begins on Tuesday with a single game at Heard County, and the scene shifts to Callaway on April 14 for a doubleheader.
“It comes down to the last region series,” said Callaway head coach Dusty Hubbard, whose team has won 12 straight games. “Somebody’s going to be first, and somebody’s going to be second.”
Callaway had its way with Jordan in the three-game series.
After winning the series opener 14-5 on Tuesday, Callaway swept the doubleheader on Thursday by scores of 12-2 and 13-3.
Both of Thursday’s games ended after five innings because of the run rule.
The Cavaliers had a productive day at the plate, with everyone in the lineup contributing, including Josh Hanson and Dylan Johnson, who both hit home runs.
“We hit the ball today,” Hubbard said. “We squared a lot of balls up. Even some balls that were outs, I felt like we squared them up. And it was pretty much team-wide. Everybody in the lineup squared the ball up.”
In their past four games, the Cavaliers have scored a total of 50 runs, and they’ve been in double digits in runs in each of those games.
“We’ve been working hard in the cages, and everything is just clicking, everybody is focused at the plate,” said Hanson, whose home run in the second inning gave the Cavaliers the lead. “Everybody’s getting quality at-bats.”
In Game 1, Jordan took the lead with two runs in the top of the first inning, and Callaway tied it with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
In the bottom of the second, Hanson was the lead-off hitter, and he got a pitch to his liking, and he crushed the ball.
The ball seemed to still be elevating when it hit a tree beyond the left-field fence.
“It was definitely in my zone,” Hanson said. “It was up, and I got a good swing on it.”
While the Cavaliers continued to pour it on offensively, Johnson settled down after the first inning to pitch the five-inning complete game.
Jordan was held scoreless after the first inning.
In the bottom of the first, Slone Raper had an RBI single, and Drake Wade scored on a wild pitch.
After Hanson’s home run put the Cavaliers on top in the second inning, they padded their lead with two runs in the bottom of the third.
Johnson walked and scored on a balk, and Trent Sheppard singled and scored on a wild pitch.
The Cavaliers exploded for seven runs in the fifth inning.
After Johnson walked, Raper drove the ball over the center fielder’s head for an RBI double, and Braelin Mitchell followed with a base hit.
Later in the inning, Wesley Marchman had an RBI single, and Milton Turner followed with a two-run base hit to extend the lead to 9-2.
Next up was Drake Wade, and his double drove in two more runs, and Ben Griffin’s sacrifice fly capped the scoring and brought the run rule into play.
After about a 30-minute break, the teams returned to the field for the nightcap.
Chandler Lott was the starting pitcher, and he threw four shutout innings before Jordan managed three runs in the top of the fifth inning.
Callaway struck first with three runs in the bottom of the first.
With one out, Kyle Campbell and Johnson had back-to-back singles, and Lott reached on a two-out hit to load the bases.
Griffin then came through with a two-run single, and he scored on an error to give his team a 3-0 lead.
The Cavaliers kept pouring it on with five runs in the second inning.
Marchman was hit by a pitch and Turner reached on a single, and Wade’s double drove in two runs.
After Campbell’s RBI single, Johnson drove the ball over the left-field fence for a two-run home run, and the Cavaliers led 8-0.
Callaway put four more runs on the board in the third inning.
Walks to Marchman, Wade and Campbell loaded the bases, and Johnson had a sacrifice fly before Raper’s two-run double extended the lead to 12-0.
Jordan scored three runs in the top of the fifth to keep the game alive, but Callaway scored a single run in the bottom of the inning to end it.
Bryce Kurian reached on an error leading off, and Raper’s base hit brought him in, and the game was over.