LaGrange eases way into second round

Published 8:56 pm Sunday, April 30, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – Through three innings, it had all the makings of a classic, low-scoring playoff pitcher’s duel.

The LaGrange Grangers scored a run in their first at-bat against Chestatee in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs on Friay, but they were held without a run in the next two innings and they had a 1-0 lead after three innings.

In the bottom of the fourth, it all changed.

The Grangers sent nine hitters to the plate in the inning and scored four runs to take a 5-0 lead, and they didn’t look back.

LaGrange won the first game 10-0, and it rolled to another 10-0 victory in the second game to complete the sweep.

“After those first innings, we settled down, and our approach (at the plate) was good, and we took off,” said LaGrange first baseman Hunter Plant. “We couldn’t be stopped. And then it carried over into that second game.”

The Grangers reached double digits in runs for the eighth time this season, and it was players throughout the lineup contributing.

The pitching wasn’t too shabby, either.

In the first game, Ben Anderson pitched a six-inning shutout, and John Morgan went five innings in the second game.

The defense was stellar behind the pitchers.

Among the highlights, shortstop Willis Kemp made a handful of exceptional plays, David Sweat made a catch at the fence in center field to end an inning, and catcher Champ Willis threw a potential base stealer out to end a threat.

“Willis made an outstanding play, and David made a play off  the wall in center field,” LaGrange coach David Smart said. “So we had plays like that. And we made the routine plays.”

In Game 1, the Grangers came to life in the fourth inning.

Kemp sparked the rally with a leadoff single, and he scored on a Cole Freeman double.

Another run scored when Jacob Vinson reached on an error, and David Sweat had a bases-loaded single to bring in two more runs and give LaGrange a 5-0 lead.

After a scoreless fifth inning, LaGrange ended it by scoring five runs in the bottom of the sixth.

After Plant and Vinson reached on back-to-back singles and Anderson walked, Kemp’s two-run single pushed the lead to 8-0.

Matthew Anderson then finished it with a two-run single, and LaGrange had the 10-0 win.

In Game 1, Kemp was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Freeman was 2-for-3 with an RBI, Matt Anderson and Sweat each had a hit and two RBIs, Willis drove in a run, and Vinson had a hit.

On the mound, Ben Anderson gave up four hits and one walk, and he had four strikeouts.

The half-hour break between games did nothing to slow the Grangers.

The Grangers, who were the visiting team for the second game, scored three runs in the top of the first inning, and they scored six more runs in the second inning.

LaGrange scored two runs in the top of the fifth inning to go up 10-0, and Morgan set Chestatee down in the bottom of the inning to end it.

In Game 2, Matt Anderson had two hits and three RBIs, Kemp had a hit and two RBIs, Willis drove in three runs, Ben Anderson had two hits, Plant had a hit and an RBI, Sweat had two hits, and Freeman drove in a run.

Morgan worked around five hits to throw the shutout, and he only threw 57 pitches.