Coach enjoys homecoming

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 5, 2019


Daily News

It was a winning homecoming for Todd Herrington.

Herrington, a LaGrange High graduate, served as an assistant baseball coach at the school for years, and he was the Grangers’ head coach for three seasons after taking over when Donnie Branch stepped down.

Herrington is now the head coach at Northgate, and on Thursday afternoon he brought his team to Granger Park to take on LaGrange.

Northgate, which is rolling along with a 17-4 record, extended its winning streak to eight with an 9-3 victory over LaGrange.

“It’s great seeing old friends,” said Herrington, who played for Branch at LaGrange. “I still talk to coach Branch on a weekly basis. I’m always asking his advice about something, and I always will.”

Branch has returned for his second stint as LaGrange’s head coach, and he’s happy to see the success his friend and coaching colleague is enjoying.

“I pull for them,” Branch said. “I check their scores. I keep up with them. In fact, we talk baseball stuff a lot.”

For the Grangers, it was a break from the pressure-packed Region 5-AAAA schedule.

LaGrange is 5-3 in the region, and it had won five consecutive games before falling to Cedartown 5-4 earlier this week.

LaGrange has four region games remaining, two against Central-Carroll, and two against Troup.

LaGrange is off until Wednesday when it visits Central-Carroll, and it will host Central on Friday.

In Thursday’s game, Branch used five pitchers, including Brant Williams, who started and threw two scoreless innings.

Williams was a key member of the staff, but he’s been unavailable the past few weeks after suffering a hand injury.

Williams was effective in his return to the mound, holding Northgate to one hit in two innings.

“Brant is just coming back, so I was glad to see him throw,” Branch said. “He was pretty sharp.”

Cole Sanders, Sam Yates and Blake Hadaway also pitched for LaGrange.

“I wanted to see what some of those guys could do, and some of them did a good job, and the defense let them down,” Branch said.

Offensively, LaGrange’s Charles Crawford stayed hot.

Crawford, who had three hits in Wednesday’s game against Cedartown, had three more hits on Thursday, and that included a solo home run in the first inning.

“Coach (Chad) Grant made a couple of adjustments in his swing a week or two ago, and he’s been seeing the ball really good for a week or two,” Branch said. “Even if he gets out, he puts together long at-bats. It’s really good to see.”

Leadoff hitter Walton Lanier, who has also been getting it done at the plate, had a hit and a walk, Wesley Kuhn had a single, and Jake Cardwell drove in a run with a fielder’s choice.

Elliot Vickery and Andrew Baldwin each had two hits and two RBIs for Northgate, and Reid Fagerstrom started and pitched three innings to get the win.

LaGrange will look to get a new winning streak started next week with two critical games against Central-Carroll.

LaGrange is in fourth place in the region with a 5-3 record, and Central-Carroll is in fifth at 3-5.

If LaGrange gets two wins over Central-Carroll, it would secure one of the region’s four playoff spots.

“We were one out away from winning six in a row, so our confidence is high,” Branch said. “We’re really close to busting through.”

Northgate, meanwhile, is closing in on a region championship before beginning what could be a lengthy stay in the state playoffs.

“We’ve got a big group of seniors,” Herrington said. “They’ve played together for a while. Hopefully we can make a little run.”