Grangers force game three
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
PERRY – With their season on the line, the LaGrange Grangers came through with a gutsy 4-3 victory over Perry to force a winner-take-all game three in their Class AAAA state-playoff series.
After dropping the first game 5-2, LaGrange earned a walk-off victory in game two to keep its season alive.
Perry scored twice in the top of the seventh to pull even, and LaGrange plated a run in the bottom of the inning to win it.
The series finale is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday at Perry, with the winner advancing to the final eight of the state playoffs.
“My message before the series was, our plan is to win two games, even if it takes three games to do it,” said LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch. “That’s the way we approached it. Whatever happens, you’ve got to win two. It may take three, it may take two. That way when you lose, you don’t panic. I knew we could come back and get to a game three.”
LaGrange had a 3-1 lead when Perry scored twice in the top of the seventh inning to deadlock the score.
Landon Tucker got things started with a base hit in the bottom of the seventh, and after Colton Esposito was hit by a pitch, Mason Wolfe singled to load the bases.
Matthew Morgan, a senior standout for the Grangers, came through with a sacrifice fly, and pinch-runner Kevin Neighbors raced home with the winning run.
Branch was pleased with the way the players responded to Perry’s game-tying rally.
“To come right back in and get it done is impressive,” Branch said. “I was probably more pleased with that than anything that happened in the game.”
Sophomore right-hander Trevor Booton was terrific on the mound in game two, pitching into the seventh inning to give his team a chance.
Booton ran into trouble in the top of the seventh, and Tucker entered the game in relief with two men on and no outs.
Perry rallied for two runs, but with runners on second and third, Tucker got a groundout to end the inning and keep the score deadlocked.
Booton ended up giving up three hits and two earned runs with seven strikeouts in six innings.
“Game two, Trevor was great,” Branch said. “I was really proud of him. He pitched us into the seventh inning, and then he kind of gassed out.”
After Perry scored a single run in the third inning, LaGrange took the lead with two runs in the fourth inning before adding on an insurance run in the sixth inning.
Seth Stargell led the LaGrange offensive effort with two hits and two runs scored from the number two spot in the order, and Morgan had a hit and an RBI from the leadoff spot.
Turner Cook, Tucker and Wolfe each had hits, and Ty Medders, Zack Thompson and Tucker had one walk apiece.
In the first game, LaGrange had the lead after scoring single runs in the first and fourth innings, but West Laurens tied it with two runs in the bottom of the fourth before taking the lead with three runs in the fifth inning.
“Game one, we were kind of controlling it and had a bad couple of innings and blew that one, and they did a good job,” Branch said.
“They’ve got good players. They’ve got three or four guys that can really swing the bats.”
Morgan got the start on the mound for LaGrange and pitched five innings, and he gave up three earned runs on five hits with seven strikeouts.
Ty Medders pitched a scoreless bottom of the sixth for LaGrange.
Will Alford had two hits with an RBI single for LaGrange, and Turner Cook had an RBI double.
Morgan had two hits with a double, and Stargell, Medders and Thompson each had one hit.