LAGRANGE – The balls were flying over the fence during Thursday’s Region 1-AAAAA showdown between LaGrange and Northside.
Unfortunately for the homestanding LaGrange Grangers, it was Northside’s hitters who were launching the ball out of the park.
Northside banged out five home runs to capture the 12-7 victory in the first of two games in two days between the two teams.
Northside will host LaGrange today, with first pitch set for 5:30 p.m.
LaGrange surged to an early 3-0 lead, but Northside took control with seven runs in the top of the third inning, with Kenny Harrell providing the big blow with a grand slam.
LaGrange had a productive offensive day of its own with 12 hits and seven runs, with five of those hits coming off the bat of Ben Anderson.
The Grangers were unable to keep pace with the Patriots, though, with nearly half of their 11 hits leaving the ballpark.
LaGrange (6-6 overall) fell to 1-3 in the region, while Northside (8-3) is tied for the region lead at 4-1.
LaGrange was looking good early after scoring three runs in the bottom of the second inning to surge to the lead.
Willis Kemp led off the inning with a single, and Champ Willis followed with a base hit to put runners on first and third.
With two outs, David Sweat walked to load the bases.
Jake Howard then hit the ball on the ground, and he hustled down the base line and reached on an error to bring in a run and keep the inning alive.
Next up was Anderson, who ripped the ball into right field for a two-run single, and the Grangers were up by three.
That was part of a massive day for Anderson, who was 5-for-5 with three RBIs and a pair of runs scored.
LaGrange’s lead was short-lived.
Gage Brown led off the top of the third with a solo home run, and after the Patriots tied it, Harrell’s grand slam gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Brown and Harrell each hit two home runs, and Marcus Eberhart had one.
Harrell hit his second home run in the top of the fifth to give the Patriots an 8-3 cushion, but the Grangers got back into the game with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
Larkin Easterwood had an RBI double, and he came around to score when Kemp reached on an error, and LaGrange was within three.
With the bases loaded, Sweat was hit by a pitch to drive in a run, and the Patriots’ lead was down to 8-6.
The bases were still full, and the Grangers were a base hit away from pulling even, but the Patriots were able to get out of the inning without any more runs scoring.
Northside then plated four key insurance runs in the top of the sixth, and it added another run in the seventh inning to go up 13-6.
LaGrange capped the scoring in the bottom of the seventh, with Anderson’s fifth hit of the day, a double, bringing in Howard.
LaGrange has plenty of time to climb the ladder in the region.
The Grangers will play a total of 18 region games, and they need to finish fourth or higher to qualify for the state playoffs.
LaGrange will be home next week for games against Hardaway on Tuesday and Carver on Thursday, and it will visit Carver next Friday.
OF NOTE: For more photos from Friday’s game, check out facebook.com/LDNsports
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports