LaGrange drops pair on opening day of tournament
Published 12:57 am Saturday, March 3, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
LaGrange’s John Morgan delivered a gem, but it was Johns Creek rallying for the 4-1 victory on Friday night in the LaGrange Toyota Invitational.
Morgan was terrific, giving up just three hits in 6 2/3 innings, and he helped his team take a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning.
Jones Creek tied it with a run in the top of the seventh, and it won the game with three runs in the ninth inning.
Earlier in the day, LaGrange lost to Pace (Fla.) 10-0.
LaGrange will look for its first tournament win when it hosts First Academy at 10 a.m. today, and it will have a place game later in the day.
Johns Creek was down 1-0 when Aaron Rosenberg led off the top of the seventh with a double.
Next up was Blake Decker, and he reached on an infield error, allowing Rosenberg to score the tying run.
Morgan picked off Decker at first and he got the next batter on a pop-up before Jared White singled, and LaGrange head coach David Smart went to the bullpen and brought Ben Stogner into the game.
White attempted to steal second, but LaGrange catcher Trent Bailey delivered a strike to throw him out and end the inning.
It remained tied at 1-1 until the top of the ninth when Johns Creek pushed three runs across.
One of the runs scored on an RBI hit by White, and two more runs scored on an error, and LaGrange found itself in a 4-1 hole.
The Grangers made some noise in the bottom of the ninth when they loaded the bases with no outs.
Walt Lanier was hit by a pitch, and Stogner and Wesley Kuhn both walked.
A strikeout and a double play ended the threat, though, sending LaGrange to the heart-breaking loss.
The Grangers lost despite the exceptional pitching, with Morgan and Stogner allowing five hits and one earned run in nine innings.
Morgan, who threw a shutout against Columbus last week, was dominant, and Smart said “he gave us a chance to win.
“He did everything we asked of him,” Smart added. “We gave up an unearned run in the seventh. If we make that play, you never know what happens.”
Stogner also threw well during his 2 1/3 innings on the mound, giving up two hits and one earned run.
“I thought we pitched well enough to win,” Smart said. “They gave us a chance, but we’re really struggling at the plate right now. We only had three hits, and one guy had two of them.”
Freshman Will Alford, who hit a home run in the 1-0 win over Columbus last week, had two hits and an RBI against Johns Creek.
In the third inning, Will Flowers singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brant Williams before scoring on Alford’s single.
Alford came through again in the seventh, and it looked like he might have won the game.
After Kuhn and Williams were both hit by pitches, the Grangers had men on first and second.
With two outs, Alford stepped to the plate and drove the ball to left field for a hit, but left fielder Jared White made a terrific throw to nail the runner at the plate and send the game to extra innings.
In Friday’s first game, Pace led 9-0 after four innings, and it added a single run in the sixth inning.
Offensively, the Grangers were limited to base Cole Freeman, Alford and Bailey.
Five different LaGrange pitchers went to the mound and allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs.
Ethan Hadaway was the most effective of those pitchers, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings.
Sam Yates pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for LaGrange, and he allowed just one hit and a run with three strikeouts.
10 a.m. – LaGrange vs. First Academy
12:30 p.m. – Brookwood vs. Buford
4 p.m. – Seventh-place game
7 p.m. – Third-place game
10 a.m. – Pace vs. Johns Creek
12:30 p.m. – Florence vs. Venice
4 p.m. – Fifth-place game
7 p.m. – Championship game.
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