Lakeview Academy’s Deuce Roark knew that if his first few batters could get on base early Wednesday evening, that would help spur confidence in the rest of his team.
Turns out, that wouldn’t be a problem.
The Lions (1-3) posted eight runs in the first inning, while junior pitcher Rob Hamby struck out nine batters in a complete-game performance to help Lakeview Academy rout Johnson High 14-2 in five innings.
“When you get your early guys up 1-2-3, you get a sense of ‘We can all do this,’” said Roark. “They make a difference for our momentum and for our attitude.”
The Lions registered 12 hits to Johnson’s four, while Hamby (2 for 2), Rob Collison (2 for 3) and Brannon Browner (3 for 4) all connected on two-run RBIs. Browner scored three runs, while his Lions teammates Logan Barwick, Brandon Ragone, JD Roark and Collison all added two runs each.
Mark McGraw and Isaiah Torres touched home for the Knights (1-7) before Lakeview Academy broke out for five more runs in the decisive fourth inning.
Johnson coach Jared Hodge said he’s hoping to get his youthful team more experience as quickly as he can.
“I thought we played tight today,” said Hodge. “That’s what you have when you have young guys feeling their way through a game. Instead of being the aggressors, they come out and feel it out. It’s about being in those situations that allow you to go through it with more confidence.”
Johnson had the chance to take a slim lead in the top of the first inning when both Torres and Ramon Munoz reached third base, but a combination of base-running errors and a groundout ended those early attempts.
Lakeview plated its first four batters, and would go on to score its opening two runs thanks to wild pitches. Rett Kinsey and Collison knocked back-to-back doubles to score Josh Henderson and Roark, before Barwick’s triple allowed Gabe McConnell to jog home for a 7-0 lead.
Hamby, who only allowed three hits and one earned run, rang up three strikeouts in both the second and fourth innings.
“He had a good day,” said Deuce Roark. “I was proud of him. We needed one of those.”
Lakeview next travels to play Lumpkin County in Dahlonega 5:30 p.m. Thursday before a Friday game at home against West Hall.
Johnson’s Ben Head came in relief late in the fourth inning, giving up three hits and two runs. Torres, Grizzle, Head and Chandler Barkley all connected for Knights hits.
“We’ve got three or four guys in their first year of varsity playing all innings for us, so it’s about getting that time under the belt,” said Hodge. “They’re busting their tails for us.”
Roark said he was impressed by Browner, who knocked a two-RBI single into right to increase Lakeview’s lead to 13-2 in the bottom of the fourth. Coach Roark said his team hasn’t been able to drive in runners as frequently as he would like in recent years.
“He’s a catalyst,” said Roark. “He’s a smart kid. Getting on base creates opportunities for all the other guys behind him. … This group has the possibility of doing those things.”
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th FINAL
Johnson 0 1 1 0 0 2
Lakeview 8 0 1 5 x 14