Callaway sweeps way into second round
By Kevin Eckleberry
HOGANSVILLE – They’re moving on.
After easing past Chattooga County 11-1 in the first game of Friday’s state-playoff doubleheader, Callaway finished off the sweep with a dramatic and eventful 6-5 victory in Game 2.
Callaway advances to the second round of the Class AA state playoffs, and it will be back home on Thursday for another best-of-three series.
In Friday’s second game, it appeared as though Chattooga had pulled even with a two-run home run that deadlocked the score at 6-6.
While Chattooga’s players were celebrating, though, Callaway head coach Dusty Hubbard went out to talk with the umpires.
The Chattooga player had taken his helmet off and tossed it away before he reached home plate, and that is a violation of Georgia High School Association rules.
So while the first run counted, the batter was ruled out by the umpires after they’d gotten together for a meeting, and Callaway maintained the lead.
“It can fall off, but you can’t take your helmet and throw it off, unless it is a walk-off home run,” Hubbard said.
Chattooga went on to load the bases with one out, but Callaway pitcher Chandler Lott got back-to-back strikeouts to finish it.
After the suspense-free first game, the Cavaliers were fighting for their lives in the second game.
“It’s the playoffs, and that’s what happens,” Hubbard said. “You get in it, and you fight, and you scrap. I’m just proud of our kids. We didn’t by any means play great team baseball in that second game, but we did enough to win.”
It was a 4-4 game when Callaway came to bat in the top of the sixth inning.
After Braelin Mitchell walked and Drake Wade reached on an error, Kyle Campbell came through with a two-out, two-run double to give Callaway the lead.
“The biggest thing I can say about that is the two guys that got on base,” Campbell said. “Braelin Mitchell and Drake Wade got on base, and all I had to do was hit in the gap, and with that speed on bases they’re going to score.”
Callaway’s Dylan Johnson, who was in the game in relief of Josh Hanson, threw a scoreless bottom of sixth after picking a runner off third for the third out.
In the bottom of the seventh, Lott headed to the mound in relief of Johnson with a man on, and it looked like he’d surrendered the tying run on the home run.
With new life, Lott fought through the inning and ended it with the back-to-back strikeouts.
“He was either going to win it, or lose it,” Hubbard said. “And we felt good about it. He made pitches when he had to.”
Callaway took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run home run by Johnson, and it added a single run in the third inning to go up 3-0.
Chattooga fought back and tied it at 4-4 through five innings, but it was Callaway pulling out the one-run win.
Hanson started and pitched the first four innings, Johnson pitched two innings to get the win, and Lott got the save.
Wade had two hits and was on base four times, and he scored four runs.
Johnson had two hits with the two-run home run, Lott had two hits, Mitchell had a double and was on base three times.
In the first game, Lott was the starting pitcher, and he went the distance in the game that was shortened to six innings because of the run rule.
Mitchell brought the game to a close with a walk-off, two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth that brought the run rule into play.
It was scoreless through two innings, and Callaway broke through for five runs in the bottom of the third.
Slone Raper walked with the bases loaded to drive in one run, and Lott had a two-run single.
The Cavaliers scored three more runs in the fifth inning, and they finished the scoring with three runs in the sixth.
Mitchell had two hits, including his two-run shot in the sixth inning, and Wade had two hits from the leadoff spot.
Raper had a hit and two walks, Lott had two hits, Ben Griffin had a hit and a sacrifice fly, Wesley Marchman had a hit, and Johnson was hit by a pitch twice.
OF NOTE: For more details on Friday’s games, check out Monday’s sports section. And for more photos, go to Facebook.com/LDNSports