Childersburg splits doubleheader with Handley
by Heather Baggett
CHILDERSBURG – The Childersburg Tigers struggled at the plate in the first round of the AHSAA Class 4A state playoffs Saturday, but found enough offense in the second game to force a third game against the Handley Tigers on Monday.

Handley struggled at the plate as well, but won the first game, 1-0. Childersburg fought back from a 1-0 deficit to win the second game, 5-2. With little offense, the difference in the two games came down to mistakes made in one inning in the second game.

“We walked a couple of guys and made a couple of errors,” Handley coach Todd Cole said. “That inning was the difference in the game. But I think it’s two of the best baseball teams in the state in 4A. I knew it was going to be a dogfight…you’ve got to play every inning. If you don’t, these two teams are good enough to beat you.”

Those mistakes for Handley came in the sixth inning of the second game. Childersburg went to the plate trailing 1-0 and ended the top of the sixth with a 4-1 advantage. Zack Lightsey started the inning with a single. Fielding errors helped load the bases for the home team. With the bases loaded, Cole made a pitching change, taking out freshman Will Lumpkin and bringing in senior William Boyd. Boyd walked Walker Holmes, bringing Tylan Coleman across home plate to tie the game. With two outs and the bases still loaded, Will Donahoo hit a line drive to left field to bring in two more runs. Trevor Bates’ hit was mishandled by the shortstop, allowing the fourth run of the inning.

Handley got one run back in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI-double by Patrick Fulghum. The visiting Tigers would only record one more hit in the game, a single by Taylor Craven, which also came in the sixth inning.

Handley got on the board in the fourth inning with an RBI-single by Craven. The team recorded six hits in the game.

Childersburg scored its final run in the seventh inning, courtesy of an RBI-double by Peyton Logan. Logan had two hits, an RBI and a run scored in the game. Lightsey also had two hits and a run scored in the second game.

Reeves Brashear was the starting pitcher for Childersburg. He pitched five innings, striking out two and walking one. Donahoo pitched the final two innings, striking out two.

The first game featured solid pitching by both teams, but Handley got the hits when needed in order to win the game.

Joseph Jordan scored on an RBI-single by William Boyd in the third inning, which proved to be the only run Handley would need for the game. They stranded seven runners during the game.

Childersburg managed six hits in the first game. The homestanding Tigers loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth inning, but a line drive back to the pitcher ended the inning.

Handley’s Lance Daniel pitched seven shutout innings, striking out two and walking three. Fulgham led the way for Handley at the plate with two hits.

“My first guy, Lance Daniel, he’s a senior…he just threw lights out,” Cole said. “I couldn’t ask for any better. The kid I threw in the second game is actually a ninth-grader and he did well. He just got in a little trouble in one inning. I thought they threw well. They kept us in the game because we’re certainly not swinging it well right now.”

Justin Baker led the way at the plate for Childersburg with two hits. Lightsey got the loss on the hill for Childersburg, striking out nine and walking none in seven innings.

“Zack’s pitched really well for us all year long and I hate that we couldn’t get him any runs,” Childersburg coach Chad Slaten said. “He’s been our No. 1 guy all year and he did it again today.”

Slaten said he was proud of the way his players continued to fight after losing the first game.

“We didn’t hit it at all Game 1 and we didn’t hit it at all Game 2 until that sixth inning,” he said. “But I told them…you’re not going to come to the park every day and get 18, 19 hits. It’s not going to happen, and we’ve been hitting it pretty good all year long. We didn’t hit it today, but we won that second game and that was big. I thought they did a good job of not panicking. We put the ball in play and they made a lot of great defensive plays. Handley is a good ball club. We knew we had a good team coming in here and they proved that. I’m proud of my guys for not panicking and they just kept on and we got that win. That was huge.”

Slaten said he was also proud of his pitchers in the second game.

“We lost that first game and Brashear came up to me and said ‘I want the ball,’” Slaten said. “I like that kind of stuff so I tossed it to him and said ‘go get ‘em.’ I don’t think he had his best stuff, but Reeves is a battler. Then we went with Donahoo there late and I knew he would throw strikes. He’s been very consistent for us all year, throwing strikes and giving us a chance. That’s all I ask them to do is give us a chance to win. I was really proud of the way Will pitched. He did a good job.”

Childersburg and Handley will decide the series with a final game on Monday at 4:30 p.m. at Garland Justice Field. Slaten wouldn’t say who will pitch the final game for the Tigers, but said he has confidence in his pitching rotation.

“I feel good about our pitching going into that game,” Slaten said. “I just hope we swing our bats a little bit better Monday.”

Cole said Boyd would be the starting pitcher for Handley on Monday.

“He’s done a good job for us this year,” he said.

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© 2013