Callaway fights way to series win

Published 2:50 am Friday, May 11, 2018


Daily News

With their ace on the mound, the Callaway Cavaliers were roughed up by Thomasville in the opening game of their playoff series.

Thomasville, the number one Class AA team in the state according to Georgia Dugout Magazine, rolled to a 9-3 victory to take the upper-hand in the best-of-three series.

As soon as that game ended, Callaway head coach Dusty Hubbard gathered his players together and reminded them that the series was a long way from over.

“(Hubbard) told us when they won the first game, they better not let us win the second game, because we’re coming back hard in the third game,” said Braelin Mitchell, Callaway’s outstanding first baseman.

Callaway found a way to win that second game 2-1 on Wednesday night in 10 innings, forcing a winner-take-all game on Thursday afternoon.

Thomasville grabbed the early lead with a run in the bottom of the first inning, but the day belonged to Callaway, which surged to a 9-6 victory to win the series and advance to the Class AA semifinals.

Callaway will host Benedictine, which swept Social Circle on Wednesday, in the semifinals on Tuesday, with the winner advancing to face either Berrien or Jeff Davis in the championship series.

Callaway earned its first trip to the semifinals since 2007 by beating a talented Thomasville team, and it wasn’t easy.

The Bulldogs seemed to have the upper-hand after beating Chandler Lott and the Cavaliers in the first game, but the home team had plenty of fight left in it.

The Cavaliers evened the series with a dramatic win on Wednesday night, with Drake Wade scoring the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning.

Walt Stewart finished things off with a scoreless bottom of the 10th in relief of Wesley Marchman, who threw nine brilliant innings.

The teams returned to the field on Thursday afternoon, and after Thomasville went up early, Callaway took the lead with two runs in the third inning before exploding for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth to go ahead 9-1.

The Bulldogs made things interesting and had the tying run on base in the bottom of the seventh, but Kyle Campbell got the final two outs to secure the save in relief of Stewart, who started and pitched four innings.

Campbell, who was a catcher, outfielder and pitcher during the series, said the Cavaliers are a reflection of their head coach.

“I think what it is about this group is we’ve taken on the personality of coach Hubbard,” Campbell said. “He’s pushed us to take on his attitude, his never-give-up attitude, and it’s kind of rubbed off on all that.”

Mitchell, who had an RBI double to pull the Cavaliers even in the third inning, said “we’ve been working hard to get better and better. Coach Hubbard always tells us to not give up, to keep fighting. And that just motivates us.”

Hubbard had a decision to make when it came time to choose a starting pitcher, and he went with Stewart, who has thrown sparingly this season.

Stewart responded by pitching into the fifth inning, and when he left the game the Cavaliers had a 9-1 lead.

Austin Barber, Lott and Campbell combined to pitch the final three innings, and while there were a few tense moments, they all got the job done.

Thomasville had already pushed two runs across in the bottom of the seventh, and it had the bases loaded trailing by three runs. The game ended when shortstop Drake Wade cleanly fielded a ground ball and flipped the ball to second for the third out, and the celebration was on.

“Everybody’s just giving it their hardest in practices and in the games,” said senior Buster Perry, who had an RBI during the seven-run fifth inning. “You can’t take a day off. You’ve got to work hard.”

Wesley Marchman, the pitching hero of the second game of the series, got it done at the plate on Thursday with three hits and two RBIs.

Mitchell, who has three home runs in the playoffs, had two hits and three RBIs, and Wade had two hits and an RBI from the leadoff spot.

Perry walked and drove in a run, Brooks Bledsoe had a hit and a run scored, Lott walked and scored a run, Trent Sheppard was twice hit by a pitch and he scored two runs, and Bryce Kurian had a scored run as well.

For Thomasville, JT Rice led the way with four hits, and Nathan Smith, Jimmy Cipriani and Zeb Maxwell each had two hits.

Trailing 1-0, the Cavaliers took the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the third. Sheppard was hit by a pitch with one out, and he scored on Mitchell’s double.

“It was big,” Mitchell said of his game-tying double. “It gave us the momentum back, let us get back in the game.”

After Campbell walked, Marchman’s RBI single gave the Cavaliers a 2-1 lead.

That’s the way it remained until the top of the fifth when Callaway blew it open with seven runs to build a 9-1 lead.

Mitchell had a two-run single to give the Cavaliers a 4-1 lead, and Marchman followed with an RBI base hit to extend the lead to four.

Two more runs scored when Perry reached on an error with the bases loaded, and Wade added an RBI single, with another run scoring on an error.

The Bulldogs came right back with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, and they capped the scoring with two runs in the seventh inning before Campbell finished things off.

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