GAINESVILLE — There were no dogpiles on the infield, no coaches soaked in Gatorade after Lakeview Academy’s 13-0 win over Commerce on Friday in Gainesville.
If the Lions celebrated their Region 8-A championship, they didn’t make a scene of it. And there’s a reason for that: they’ve got bigger plans.
“We certainly have other goals in mind,” Lakeview coach Deuce Roark said. “For the first time I’ve ever been around a team, we have a chance to walk through the region undefeated, and that’s a huge accomplishment in itself and we’d love to do that with this team.”
What about the possibility of a state championship?
“That’s our No. 1 goal,” senior Brett Armour said.
There’s still a lot of baseball to be played between here and there, but the Lions (21-1, 14-0) are proving they’re worthy of their No. 2 ranking in the GaSports.com Coaches Poll. They haven’t lost in five weeks, scoring nearly 12 runs per game across a span of 14 straight wins.
Despite the loss, Commerce (14-7, 11-2) still holds the region’s second spot entering the final week of the regular season. The Tigers return to action in a pivotal road game, 4:30 p.m. Monday at third-place Hebron Christian (17-3, 10-3).
As five-inning blowouts go, Friday’s was comparatively un-offensive.
The Lions scored all of their runs in their first three at bats and needed only five hits to do it. Commerce pitchers struggled to find the strike zone, as four Tigers combined to pile up 13 walks and two hit batsmen.
Five straight Lakeview hitters walked to start the second inning before Armour cashed in, parking a 3-2 offering well beyond the left-field fence for a grand slam.
Armour went 2-for-4 with a triple and six RBIs, extending his torrid stretch another game. He’s now homered nine times in Lakeview’s last 10 games, bringing his season total to 14.
“The ball’s kinda like a beach ball floating up there right now,” Armour said. “I’m just trying to do the best I can for the team when I get up there.”
From his catcher position, Armour also helped to cut short what might’ve been a Commerce rally in the fifth inning when he picked off a Tiger lurking too far off first base. The next batter chopped one to shortstop for the game’s final out.
That was about all the help Lakeview starting pitcher Ralston Cash needed. After escaping a bases loaded jam in the first inning, Cash breezed through the next four frames for a five-inning, two-hit shutout.
“Today, I didn’t feel like I had it all,” said Cash who struck out nine and went 3-for-4 at the plate. “But we came out and got seven runs in the (second) inning, so I had no pressure after that.”
Haughton Carswell and Nick Saye also had hits for Lakeview, while Carl Allen and Hunter Ward each had infield singles for Commerce.
Roark said “routine will remain the same” as Lakeview wraps up the regular season next week with games at Prince Avenue (5:30 p.m. Tuesday) and at home against Hebron Christian (5 p.m. May 1).
“That’s one of our other goals,” Cash said. “Stay humble, so God doesn’t have to humble us.”