Wild Game 2 victory for Cavaliers

Published 8:57 pm Sunday, April 30, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry


HOGANSVILLE – While Chattooga’s players celebrated what they thought was a game-tying, two-run home run Friday night, Callaway head coach Dusty Hubbard made his way onto the field to talk to the umpires.

As the Chattooga hitter rounded the bases, he removed his helmet and tossed it away.

That, it turns out, is not allowed by the Georgia High School Association, and Hubbard went on the field to point that out to the umpires.

After the umpires huddled, they ruled that the player who hit the home run was out because of the infraction.

The first run counted, but the second one didn’t, so Callaway still had the lead.

After that, Callaway pitcher Chandler Lott did some great work to secure the save in his team’s 6-5 victory in Game 2 of the Class AA state-playoff series.

That win, combined with the earlier 11-1 victory, gave the Cavaliers the series win and put them in the second round of the state playoffs.

As one-sided and suspense-free as the first game was, there was all sorts of drama in the second game, leading up to the fateful final inning.

Chattooga, which was the home team for the second game, came to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning trailing 6-4.

After Callaway’s Dylan Johnson hit a batter, Lott entered the game in relief after throwing six innings in the first game.

Lott surrendered what appeared to be the game-tying home run, but that changed thanks to some heads-up coaching by Hubbard.

Had Hubbard not raised the issue, the home run would have stood.

“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 kept fighting.

An error and two walks loaded the bases, and Chattooga had the tying run standing on third base, and the winning run was at second with one out.

Unphased, Lott struck out the next two batters to get the unconventional save.

“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.”

As did Johnson, who entered the game in relief of Josh Hanson and threw two solid innings.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, after Callaway had taken a two-run lead on a double by Kyle Campbell in the top of the inning, Chattooga had runners on second and third with one out.

Johnson got a strikeout for the second out, and he then picked a runner off third to end the inning.

Johnson also did some nice work in the fifth inning after coming into the game in a pressure situation.

“Dylan did a great job on the mound, keeping them where they were at,” Hubbard said. “Even in that one inning when they had second and third with no outs, he only gave up one run that tied the game.”

The biggest hit came off the bat of Campbell, who came to the plate with Drake Wade and Braelin Mitchell on base in the top of the sixth.

On a 1-1 count, Campbell ripped the ball to right field for a two-run double, and after arriving at second base, he celebrated what turned out to be the game-winning hit.

Callaway also scored two runs in the first inning on a two-run home run by Johnson after Drake Wade led off with a walk.

The Cavaliers added single runs in the third and fourth innings before capping their scoring in the sixth.

Wade did a lot of damage for the Cavaliers.

He was on base four times with two hits and a walk, and he scored four runs.

Johnson had two hits, including his two-run blast in the first inning, Lott had a pair of base hits, and Mitchell had a double and a walk.

It was a game where plenty went wrong, but the Cavaliers walked away with the win.

“When a team’s fighting for your life, they’re going to give you what they’ve got,” Hubbard said.

Campbell, a junior who is in his first season at Callaway, said the players are a reflection of the coaching they receive.

“I’d say everything we do feeds off the coaches, and how they push us,” Campbell said.

In the first game, Callaway made easy work of Chattooga, with Lott pitching the six-inning complete game.

The game ended in the sixth inning, with Mitchell’s home run bringing the mercy rule into play.

Wade, who was terrific from the lead-off position, had two hits, and Mitchell also had two hits.

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.

Chattooga scored an unearned run in the fifth inning, and that was it.

Lott limited Chattooga’s hitters to three hits in six innings.

Lott was the winning pitcher in the first game, and he got the save in the second game.