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High school baseball: Lakeview Academy falls to Hebron Christian Academy in second-round playoff series

The Lakeview Academy baseball team battled back from huge seventh-inning deficits in both games of Thursday night’s second-round playoff doubleheader against Hebron Christian Academy in Gainesville. But the Lions efforts came up just short on each occasion, falling 8-6 and 7-5 in a series sweep that brings an end to Lakeview Academy’s season.  

“We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities,” Lions coach Deuce Roark said. “We played a really good team. They beat us. We made a few critical errors at the wrong times, and they didn’t. We played hard. We battled to the end. We put pressure. It just was too little too late.”

Hebron Christian Academy jumped out to an early lead in Game 1, with junior Thomas Headley bouncing a single into left field to bring in a pair of runs in the first inning, and Lakeview Academy was forced to play from behind for the remainder of the contest. 

A bases-clearing double in the fifth inning pushed Hebron Christian Academy’s lead to 6-0 before Lakeview Academy started to find some offensive rhythm. 

Lions freshman Tanner Allen brought in a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth, scoring Ian Echols and Jordan Thomas with a double lined to center field. Holden Cooper, Campbell Melson and Sam Stewart all brought in runs in the bottom of the seventh, but the deficit Lakeview Academy had built to that point was too large to overcome. 

“We had a real big mountain to climb, and they just never gave up,” Roark said. “We’ve had some really close games they were able to pull through. Tonight just wasn’t one of them.”

The roles appeared to be reversed in the night cap, with Lakeview Academy jumping out to a 2-0 lead after one inning thanks to a bases loaded catcher’s interference, then an RBI from Echols. But the Lions fell into an untimely cold spell offensively from there, failing to score in any of the next five frames. 

“I think their pitching today was superb,” Roark said. “They never gave us an opportunity to just get huge momentum.”

Four Hebron Christian Academy runs between the fifth and sixth innings gave the visiting Lions a 7-2 lead entering the seventh inning. 

Lakeview Academy did manage to produce two runs off RBIs from Skyler Thellman and Jordan Thomas and a third off a balk that brought Thellman in from third base, but once again, the Lions could not climb out of the hole they had dug.

The loss brings an end to the season for a team that Roark said has been a joy to coach from the first game of the year. 

“They enjoy all the aspects of baseball, whether it’s hustling to first base or making a diving play or just being able to pitch,” Roark said. “Whatever it might be in the game, these guys enjoyed it. Them enjoying it was contagious for everybody. I’m very thankful to them.”

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