LAGRANGE – The LaGrange Academy Warriors will play the biggest game of their season on Friday.
The Warriors have already earned a spot in the GISA state baseball playoffs, but they have a chance to secure homefield advantage for a first-round series if they can beat Brandon Hall on Friday in Carrollton.
LaGrange Academy and Brandon Hall are tied for second place in Region 4-AA, and they have split their previous two meetings, creating the need for a one-game playoff.
The winner of Friday’s game will be at home for a state-playoff series, while the loser will finish third and go on the road.
LaGrange Academy could have avoided Friday’s game if it had beaten Flint River on Wednesday at home, but that didn’t happen.
A strong Flint River team that has won the region championship took control early, and it rolled to a 16-1 victory.
When LaGrange Academy coach Brandon Lybrand was meeting with his players following Wednesday’s game, his message to them was to put it behind them and get ready for Friday’s showdown.
“I told them, forget about this game,” Lybrand said. “We’ve got to focus on Friday. That’s the big game.”
Lybrand said he did take some positives from the game, most notably his team’s ability to make solid contact at the plate, although that only translated into one run.
“We hit the ball pretty well today,” Lybrand said. “We got a lot of runners on. Going up against Flint and that type of pitching, the fact that we were getting on, that should give them some confidence going into Friday.”
Lybrand also felt Mason Brown, who was pulled early so he’ll be able to pitch on Friday, threw well against a strong Flint River lineup.
While the game got away from the Warriors, Lybrand never saw his players react negatively, and he was proud of the effort and tenacity they showed until the end.
“They never gave up,” Lybrand said. “That’s the thing that I’m more proud of. They could have gotten down, but they never did. They battled through the whole time.”
Lybrand said shortstop Nick Keating in particular left everything on the field.
“Nick Keating, it didn’t matter to him what the score was,” Lybrand said. “He was going after everything. He was hustling. He was diving for balls, and doing things like that.”
After losing its first game to Brandon Hall this season, LaGrange Academy turned the tables in the rematch to stay in contention for the region’s second spot.
SOCCER: The season came to a close for the LaGrange Lady Grangers in the opening round of the Class AAAAA state tournament.
Facing a strong McIntosh team that is ranked second in Class AAAAA, LaGrange ended up falling 5-0.
It put an end to a successful season for the Lady Grangers, who went 10-8 and finished third in Region 1-AAAAA to earn an invitation to the state tournament.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports