Callaway wins playoff thriller

Published 12:50 am Friday, May 4, 2018


Daily News

He was ready for the moment.

In the seventh inning of Thursday’s playoff game against Rabun County, Callaway’s Braelin Mitchell stepped to the plate in a tie game.

Mitchell got a pitch to his liking, and he didn’t let it go to waste.

The right-handed Mitchell drove the ball over the outfield fence with plenty of room to spare, and the two-run home run gave Callaway a 9-7 lead.

Austin Barber, who was terrific in relief, set Rabun County down in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the 9-7 victory.

Combined with a 3-0 victory in the first game, Callaway swept the doubleheader to win the Class AA playoff series.

Callaway advances to the quarterfinals, and it will face either Harlem or Thomasville with a trip to the semifinals on the line.

In Thursday’s second game, Rabun County scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 7-6 lead, and that’s the way it remained until the top of the seventh.

Drake Wade reached on an error leading off, and he made it to third when a pickoff throw to first base went awry.

Next up was Trent Sheppard, and his RBI single plated Wade in with the tying run, and that brought Mitchell to the plate.

On a 1-0 count, Mitchell’s no-doubt-about-it home run gave the Cavaliers the lead.

“All night, they were pitching me away, off-speed pitches away,” Mitchell said. “He hung that one and I put a good swing on it, and it flew out of here.”

That was part of a big game for Mitchell, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored.

None of those three hits, of course, were bigger than the one he hit in the seventh inning with the home folks looking on.

“I just put a good swing on it like all my others,” Mitchell said. “It feels good to do that in front of the home crowd.”

Barber worked around a leadoff hitter in the bottom of the seventh to finish things off.

The left-handed Barber threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing just two hits to get the win in relief of Wesley Marchman, who started and pitched into the fourth inning.

When Barber’s number was called, he was ready.

“Basically, what coach (Dusty Hubbard) has been saying this entire season, when you get your chance, no matter how small or big, seize that opportunity,” Barber said. “Get it done.”

The Cavaliers seemed to be in control after scoring three runs in each of the second and third innings to take a 6-2 lead, but the Wildcats stormed to the lead with the five-run fourth inning.

Thanks to the late-game heroics and some outstanding relief work from Barber, though, the outcome went Callaway’s way.

“(Coach Hubbard) always teaches us never give up, always compete, and good things can happen,” Mitchell said. “And good things happened.”

Mitchell led the offensive effort in the second game with his three hits, and Walt Stewart had one hit while driving in four runs.

Chandler Lott had two hits and two runs scored, Marchman had a hit and an RBI, Kyle Campbell had a single, and Sheppard drove in a run.



It was the Chandler Lott show.

Lott not only pitched a complete-game four-hitter in the 3-0 victory, but he also had two hits and two RBIs.

On the mound, Lott was efficient, needing just 64 pitches to make his way through seven innings, and he gave a lot of credit to the defense that was superb.

“I feel like I say it every time, but I pray every time before I get on the mound, so I give it to God,” Lott said. “Besides that, I give it to my defense. They were lights out.

“There wasn’t a ball dropping in the outfield. There wasn’t a ball getting through the infield. They had to actually hit the ball in the gap to get on base.”

The Cavaliers scored single runs in each of the first, third and fifth innings, and that was enough.

Drake Wade, Callaway’s leadoff hitter, had two hits and two runs scored, and Trent Sheppard and Bryce Kurian also had two hits apiece.

Buster Perry also had a hit for the Cavaliers.