Hawks edge Grangers
Published 11:39 pm Friday, February 22, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
He did it all.
LaGrange’s Wesley Kuhn put all of his skills on display during Friday’s home baseball game against Hardaway.
Kuhn had a two-run double, he made a phenomenal diving catch in left field, and he pitched a perfect inning.
Despite Kuhn’s best effort, though, it was Hardaway coming away with the 3-2 victory to even the season series at 1-1 between the two teams.
LaGrange opened its season with a 14-3 win over Hardaway last week, but the tables were turned in the rematch.
“Hardaway, give them credit,” LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch said. “I though their pitchers did a good job. And they played really good defense, which they struggled the last time we played them. But we had a bunch of give-away at-bats. If there’s anything I was disappointed, it’s that we had a bunch of quick-count, where we don’t run the count. We’d swing at a high ball and hit it straight up in the infield. That was disappointing.”
LaGrange was trailing 3-0 in the fifth when Kuhn ripped the ball to right field for a two-run double.
Kuhn also made a diving catch in left field for the first out of the top of the fifth inning, and the senior pitched a perfect top of the seventh.
“Wesley was really good, and he’s just learning how to pitch,” Branch said. “He made a play, he knocked in two, and he looked good on the mound.”
Kuhn pitched sparingly last season, but Branch is counting on him to be a key member of the staff this spring.
Kuhn only needed 11 pitches to get through the seventh inning, and he had a pair of strikeouts.
“I have a lot of confidence going to the mound,” Kuhn said. “Last year, I was a little bit worried. This year, I’m ready.”
Charles Crawford was the tough-luck losing pitcher.
Crawford started and pitched five strong innings, holding Hardaway to one hit, a two-run home run by Joe Crowell in the fourth inning.
Hardaway went up 3-0 on an RBI single by Tristan Driver in the sixth inning, but pitcher Jake Cardwell got out of that inning without any further damage.
LaGrange catcher Trent Bailey threw a potential base stealer out for the second out, with Crawford making a nice catch and tag at third base.
The Grangers had opportunities to score in the first five innings, but they were unable to break through.
That changed in the bottom of the sixth.
With one out, Will Alford reached on an opposite-field single to right field.
Next up was Bailey, and he came through with a base hit of his own, although Alford was thrown out trying to make it to third.
Following an intentional walk to Crawford, Kuhn stepped to the plate with two men on and two outs.
Kuhn hammered the ball to the fence in right field for a two-run double, and Hardaway’s lead was down to one.
Hardaway’s Hunter Duke got out of the inning with his team clinging to a one-run lead.
After Kuhn shut the Hawks down in the top of the seventh, the Grangers came to the plate needing one run to tie it, or two runs to win it.
The Grangers went quietly though, with Duke getting a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to end it.
The Grangers got exceptional pitching and solid defense, but they were held to five hits by a trio of Hawks’ pitchers.
Mason Green, Alford, Bailey, Kuhn and Cole Crawford each had hits for LaGrange.
LaGrange will visit Griffin on Monday before playing four games in three days in the LaGrange Toyota Invitational beginning on Thursday.
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