Pitching powers Grangers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The LaGrange Grangers are where they are thanks in large part to the exceptional performance of the pitching staff.
That was on full display in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs, with Matthew Morgan, Landon Tucker and Trevor Booton combining to shut down the Jenkins hitters in a pair of shutout wins.
In the first game, Morgan pitched six shutout innings, and Tucker finished things off with a perfect seventh inning as LaGrange won 5-0.
It was the Trevor Booton show in the second game.
The sophomore right-hander took a perfect game into the fifth inning and threw a seven-inning no-hitter as LaGrange won 9-0 to complete the sweep.
LaGrange (20-8) will look to keep it going when it visits West Laurens in the second round of the state playoffs, with the winner advancing to play Jefferson or Marist in the third round.
“We match up with about anybody one-two (pitching-wise), and we have a really good catcher (Zack Thompson), and the defense has gotten better,” said LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch. “Offensively, we are what we are.”
While the Grangers have had their offensive struggles this season they managed to score 14 runs against Jenkins.
Morgan, Tucker and Ty Medders each had two hits in the series opener, and Seth Stargell, Will Alford and Colton Esposito had hits as well.
In the second game, Turner Cook hit his second home run of the season, and he finished with two hits and three RBIs.
Morgan, Preston Pressley, Thompson, Tucker and Kevin Neighbors also had hits, and Morgan, Pressley, Medders and Esposito had RBIs.
One of LaGrange’s most consistent players all season has been Morgan, who has not only carried the mantle as the staff ace but has been a driving force in the lineup.
Last week, Morgan announced that he has committed to the University of West Georgia.
Another senior standout, Tucker, has also announced his college plans, and he’ll sign with Volunteer State.
Also, Alford is expected to sign a baseball scholarship as well, and he is weighing his options.
Those three seniors, along with Thompson, are the only players who came into the season with significant varsity experience.
Despite that, the Grangers have had a terrific season, and now they’re one of 16 teams left standing in Class AAAA.
“We really have gotten better, and it’s showing,” Morgan said. “We’re going to need to play better the next round, but we have it within us for sure.”
WHAT: Second round of Class AAAA state playoffs
WHEN: Tuesday, 4 p.m. (doubleheader); Wednesday, 2 p.m. (if needed)
WHERE: West Laurens