Callaway pitcher was ready for his shot
Published 1:44 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2018
By kevin eckleberry
Callaway’s Austin Barber was ready for his moment.
In game two of last week’s second-round playoff series against Rabun County, Callaway head coach Dusty Hubbard had to pull starting pitcher Wesley Marchman after 3 1/3 innings.
Marchman has been superb this season and has an unbeaten record, but he struggled a bit against Rabun County and he ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With two outs in the fourth inning, Hubbard called upon left-hander Austin Barber to put out the fire.
Barber hit a batter and gave up a base hit before getting a pop-out to end the inning, and Callaway trailed 7-6.
The rest of the way, Barber was nearly perfect.
During the final three innings, Barber limited Rabun County to two hits and zero runs, and Callaway rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh to win 9-7 and advance to the Class AA quarterfinals.
Barber’s relief work was a big reason why the Cavaliers were able to win and avoid a winner-take-all game three.
Considering how dependable Marchman has been all season there was a good chance he’d be the only pitcher used in the game, but Barber was prepared just in case.
Turns out Barber was needed, and he delivered an exceptional pitching performance.
“Basically, what coach has been saying this entire season, when you get your chance, no matter how small or big, seize that opportunity, get it done,” Barber said.
Barber came in throwing strikes, and he didn’t walk anyone.
Considering how solid Callaway’s defense has been, Barber felt confident putting the ball over the plate.
“I trust my defense,” Barber said. “And I know they’re going to back me up whenever I need them to. Basically, coming in with that big of an opportunity, I took it to heart, and I wasn’t going to let my team down. I wasn’t going to make them play tomorrow, when I knew I could get it done today.”
Wright hasn’t been used often this season, but Hubbard knew he would be prepared.
“Dawson works so hard, and he deserved that opportunity,” Hubbard said.
HAPPY SENIOR: A year ago, Callaway’s Chandler Lott was unable to pitch in the second round of the state playoffs because of an injury.
Lott is healthy this year, and he was on the mound for game one of last week’s second-round series against Rabun County.
Lott was sensational.
The senior right-hander threw a seven-inning, complete-game shutout, and he held Rabun County to four hits and didn’t walk anyone.
Lott, who had two strikeouts, only needed 64 pitches to make his way through seven innings.
Of those 64 pitches, 44 of them were strikes.
Lott threw a first strike to 19 of the 25 batters he faced.
Lott was backed up by a defense that was superb, and he expressed his appreciation for his teammates after the game.
“I pray everytime before I get on the mound. I give it all to God,” Lott said. “But besides that, I give it 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.”
Lott helped himself out by picking a runner off at second base to end an inning, and he also led the offensive effort with two hits and two RBIs.
Lott also had two hits in the second game, and he was 4-of-7 in the two games combined.
CALLAWAY VS. THOMASVILLE
WHAT: Third round of the Class AA playoffs
WHEN: Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. (doubleheader), Thursday, 3:30 p.m. (if needed)
OF NOTE: For much more on Callaway’s upcoming quarterfinal series with Thomasville, see Wednesday’s sports section.