Panthers 17th in latest poll
Published 1:30 am Thursday, May 9, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They’re back in the final four.
The Callaway Cavaliers took two games from visiting Bacon County on Wednesday to win the quarterfinal series and advance to the Class AA state semifinals for the second straight year.
In game one, Callaway rallied from a two-run deficit in the final inning to upend Bacon County 9-8.
In game two, freshman Justin Moore pitched a complete-game gem as Callaway finished the sweep with a 6-4 victory.
Callaway will face the winner of the Rockmart and Harlem winner in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Rockmart and Harlem spit a doubleheader on Wednesday, and they’ll play a third and deciding game today.
“They’re going to fight you until the end,” Callaway head coach Dusty Hubbard said. “It may not always result in a win, but we’re going to give it everything they’ve got. I’m just proud of them.”
It’s a veteran squad, and most of the players who appeared in Wednesday’s games were a part of last year’s semifinal team as well.
“We’re a hard-working team,” said one of those seniors, Trent Sheppard. “We never give up. Most of these players were in the final four, so stuff like this isn’t too much for us. We’re ready for it.”
One player who wasn’t there last season is Moore, and the freshman has settled in and become an integral member of the staff.
Bacon County scored three runs against Moore in the sixth inning to get within two, but the freshman hung in there and finished off the complete game.
“You judge kids a lot of times by how hard the compete,” Hubbard said. “We don’t have a kid that will compete harder than him.”
Here’s a recap of both games:
The Cavaliers shrugged off a late two-run deficit to beat the Raiders 9-8 in dramatic fashion.
Bacon County exploded for five runs in the top of the sixth inning to take an 8-6 lead, and that’s the way it remained until the bottom of the seventh.
The game-winning rally began when Wesley Marchman reached on a base hit, and after a pitching change, Trent Sheppard walked to put men on first and second.
Next up was Braelin Mitchell, and his hard-hit single to center field loaded the bases with one out.
That brought Jabari Smith to the plate, and while his grounder was fielded cleanly, the throw to first was off target, and Marchman and Sheppard both scored to tie the game.
With Luke Swann at the plate, a pitch deflected off of the Bacon County catcher’s glove, and Mitchell came sprinting home with the winning run.
Bacon County scored a pair of runs in the top of the first to take a 2-0 lead, but Callaway answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
Wade and Marchman got things started with singles, and Sheppard put Callaway on the board with an RBI single.
With two outs, Swann drove a 1-2 pitch to left field for a two-run single, and Callaway led 3-2.
It was a 3-3 game when Callaway reclaimed the lead with two runs in the third inning.
After a Marchman base hit, Mitchell’s RBI double put the Cavaliers back on top, and Swann’s sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 5-3.
Callaway added another run in the bottom of the fourth to go up 6-3.
Walt Stewart led off with a single, and he moved to second on Kurian’s sacrifice bunt and third on a passed ball.
A ball-four pitch to leadoff hitter Drake Wade got away from the catcher, and Stewart scored to give the Cavaliers the three-run lead.
The Raiders surged to the lead in the sixth, with a grand slam by Caleb Houston accounting for four of the runs.
Walt Stewart, who gave up the grand slam, settled down and kept the deficit at two runs, giving the Cavaliers an opportunity to come back.
Dawson Wright started, and Austin Barber, Tucker Starling and Stewart pitched in relief.
Callaway built a 6-1 lead in the sixth inning and withstood a late Bacon County rally to get the clinching victory.
Justin Moore, who has been on the mound for three clinching playoff victories this season, went the distance to get the hard-earned complete-game win.
Bacon County brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Moore got a strikeout and a pop-out to end it.
Bacon County scored a first-inning run to go up 1-0, and it made that lead stand up until the fifth inning when Callaway broke through for three runs.
After Brooks Bledsoe and Bryce Kurian walked, Drake Wade bounced the ball over the outfield fence for a ground-rule double, and the game was tied.
With two outs, Trent Sheppard reached on an infield error, and Kurian and Wade both scored to give Callaway a 3-1 lead.
The Cavaliers padded their lead with three more runs in the sixth inning.
Luke Swann led off with a walk, and two batters later, Kurian’s double down the right-field line gave Callaway a 4-1 lead.
After Wade walked, he and Kurian both moved up a base on a double steal, bringing Wesley Marchman to the plate with runners on second and third.
Marchman legged out an infield single to bring Kurian home, and Wade hustled around third and never slowed, and he scored as well to give Callaway the 6-1 lead.
Bacon County made things interesting by scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth, but the game belonged to Callaway.
OF NOTE: For much more on Wednesday’s games, check out Friday’s sports section. And for more photos, go to Facebook.com/LDNSports