Lakeview Academy gave Providence Christian one too many scoring opportunities with runners in scoring position Monday, March 26, in Gainesville. It made all the difference in a high-scoring region baseball game.
After leading by six runs early, the Lions (7-8, 1-3 Region 8-A) allowed five runs in the top of the seventh inning en route to a 10-7 loss. The Storm batted with the bases loaded seven times, catapulting it to a come-from-behind win made possible with four runs in the sixth inning to make it a one-run Lakeview Academy lead going into the final frame.
“We kept putting ourself in a bad situation all day,” Lakeview Academy coach Deuce Roark said. “But we’re still developing as a team and just trying to put it all together.”
Trailing by four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Lions started a rally when Ian Echols and JD Roark reached on singles, then Skyler Thellman reached on a strikeout when the ball got past the catcher to load the bases.
However, with the bases full of Lions runners, the reliever for the Storm (12-8, 4-1) got the final batter to strikeout looking.
Providence Christian took the lead for the first time in its final at-bat with an RBI single from Mitchell Miller and two-run double by Cole Tillotson.
The Storm cashed in with the bases loaded in the sixth inning with an RBI single from Simon Graf and Keegan Tranum after lead-off hitter Crawford Hansard drew a walk to load the bags.
The first two times Providence Christian loaded the bases with no outs was with Lakeview Academy starter Andrew Estes on the mound. The Lions’ starter was solid early pitching around those jams, allowing just one run in those two situations — the first inning and fourth inning.
In the first inning, Tranum got on when his bunt back to the mound with runners at first and second base and no outs caused some indecision by Estes about where to throw the ball. However, Estes rebounded nicely and got around the tough start by getting clean-up hitter Ben Johnson (3 for 4, walk) to strike out, then forcing Tillotson to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Once the Lions got to the plate, they put four runs on the board, three on a home run by Echols to stake claim to an early 4-0 lead.
“That was a heck of a momentum boost for us early on,” Roark said.
Echols finished the game 3 for 4 at the plate and also scored two runs. Estes, Roark and Holden Cooper each chipped in a pair of hits for the Lions.
Trailing 6-0 in the top of the fourth inning, Providence Christian put up its first run when David Sloan reached when his bunt back to the mount didn’t field a throw from Estes, who initially turned toward third base with thoughts of trying to cut down the lead runner. With the bases loaded, Cameron Bowan ripped an RBI single for the Storm.
After a four-run sixth inning, Providence Christian built its cushion by sending 12 batters to the box in the seventh inning.
The Storm’s rally started when Miller sent a hard-hit ground ball off the ankle of Lakeview Academy’s third pitcher of the day, Sam Stewart, and into the outfield for a single. Providence Christian’s five-run inning was sustained with three straight one-out walks.
Next up, Lakeview Academy hosts Towns County at 4:30 p.m. today in Gainesville.