Lakeview Academy’s baseball team wasn’t fighting for its playoff life Friday night against Hebron Christian: The Lions had already secured a spot in the postseason, win or lose.
However, Lakeview wanted nothing more than to round out the regular season with a perfect 3-0 week, not to mention the possibility of a win against Hebron, which already had the Region 8-A title in the bag.
“This one is going to sting for a little while,” said Lakeview coach Deuce Roark after losing to Hebron Christian 7-4 Friday in Gainesville. “This would have been a big momentum builder for us going into the playoffs.”
With the loss, the Lions (18-7, 11-5) are headed to the playoffs as the No. 4 seed from Region 8-A with a first-round Class A playoff series at either Landmark Christian or Walker next Friday. All playoff series are best of three games.
Commerce (12-12, 12-4) secured the region’s No. 3 seed for the playoffs with a 9-2 win against Athens Christian Friday.
“I think our team is ready for the playoffs,” Lions senior Ralston Cash said. “We’d like to be able to do something great in the playoffs, but we know God has a plan for this team.”
Had Lakeview Academy defeated Region 8-A champion Hebron Christian (23-2, 15-1) in the season finale, it would have secured the third seed to the playoffs by way of the tie-breaker criteria.
However, that is all in the past now. Lakeview Academy knows that its goal is to go on the road and take down the Region 5-A champion, whether it be Walker or Landmark Christian, next week.
Of course, from their own experience, Lakeview knows that it can be done. The Lions, last year’s Region 8-A champion, fell to No. 4 seed Bremen in the first round of the playoffs in 2009.
Early on against Hebron, Lakeview Academy looked poised for a big win. In the first inning, lead off hitter Dalton Munday and Ross Biegler reached base and set the stage for Cash’s three-run home run over the center field fence.
However, Hebron Christian starter Christian Davila settled down quickly and only allowed four hits with four strikeouts over the next four innings.
In the sixth inning, Hebron Christian opened the game up when Seth Gower connected on a two-run triple and to extend its lead to 6-3. Hebron Christian added another run in the seventh when Lance Dutton had a lead-off ground-rule double and came in to score on a sacrifice fly from Ben Mason.
Gower also added a two-run home run for Hebron in the second inning on a 3-2 count. He finished the game 2-for-3 with four RBIs.
In Lakeview’s half of the sixth, the Lions scored a run when Spencer Sorrells walked with one out and the bases loaded to score Taylor Simpson.
In the seventh, the Lions got consecutive hits from Jacob Whitenton, Simpson and Tyler Young, but the rally was short lived when the lead runner on Young’s single was tagged out at the plate on a great throw from the outfield.
Now that the playoffs are on the horizon, Roark has confidence that his top two pitchers, Cash and Simpson, will be ready. He also has some depth with Derek Fadool and Austin Montgomery coming in out of the bullpen.
“I feel good about our No. 1 and No. 2,” Roark said. “We also have some young guys that have pitched well too.”
Hebron Christian will play host to North Cobb Christian in the first round of the playoffs next Friday in Dacula.