Lakeview Academy baseball coach Deuce Roark knows that highs and lows come with coaching.
But that reality doesn’t take the sting away from the Lions’ season ending Thursday in the second round of the Class A state playoffs.
Lakeview lost Game 3 of its second-round playoff series against Bremen 8-4 in Gainesville, bringing an end to a season that produced a Region 8-A title.
"If you play long enough, you’re going to have some heartaches," the Lions’ coach of 10 years said. "All we could ask is for the kids to battle, and they did that to the very end."
Bremen qualified for the state quarterfinals the hard way winning the second game Wednesday, 13-3, to force Game 3 at Lakeview.
Bremen (19-6) pounded out nine hits in Thursday’s game, including a two-run home run from lead-off hitter Cal Hardie in the third inning. The win was especially satisfying for Blue Devils coach Mark Clark, after his team lost in the second round of the playoffs in 2007 and 2008.
"I was so pleased with the way our team came out and competed today," Clark said. "That was a very good team that we beat from Lakeview."
"Bremen hit the ball better than I thought they would, especially with two strikes in the count," Roark added.
Leading 3-2, the Blue Devils secured the win with five runs after loading the bases in the top of the seventh. Bremen scored two runs on errors by Lakeview Academy, another on a fielder’s choice and then another pair of runs with bases-loaded walks.
That final inning cushion for Bremen was enough to withstand Lakeview’s rally in the bottom of the seventh that included a two-run single from junior Ralston Cash.
The Lions’ infielder/pitcher finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk.
Lakeview finished the game with eight hits, including one hit each from Haughton Carswell, Ross Biegler, Brett Armour, Nick Saye, Jacob Whitenton and Tyler Young.
Still, situational base running proved costly for Lakeview with the bases loaded in the fifth inning.
Trailing 3-1 and the bases loaded, a fly ball out to center field allowed Whitenton to score for the Lions, but the runner at second tagged resulting in a double play. With two outs and only one runner on base the final batter of the inning for Lakeview grounded out.
"A base-running mistake like that is a huge momentum change," Roark said. "With a play like that you just wonder what’s going on."
The fifth inning was Lakeview’s best opportunity to take the lead for the first time in the game. Whitenton and Young reached base on singles, followed by a walk from Munday to load the bases. Carswell’s fly ball to the outfield scored the lead runner, before the costly base running error.
The Lions also left a pair of runners on base in the fourth and sixth innings.
"I don’t feel like we were on top of our game today hitting," Roark said. "When one part of your game leaves for a while then the hitting starts to wane.
"But this has been a fantastic group of boys to coach this season and I’m so proud of what they accomplished this year."
Bremen’s five-run seventh inning started when Hardie was hit by a pitch. That was followed by a single by Christian Prichard; a throwing error put runners on second and third with no outs. Then Jay Wade drew a walk for Bremen, which loaded the bases.
With the win, the Blue Devils travel to Calvary Day for a best-of-three series next week in Savannah.
Lakeview’s season is now complete.