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Prep baseball: Lions win fifth straight game
Lakeview Academy’s Jacob Whitenton strolls into second base ahead of the throw from the outfield during the Lions’ Tuesday afternoon’s game at the Lakeview Academy baseball field.

GAINESVILLE Lakeview Academy is extremely familiar with winning streaks.

Eleven players on the Lions baseball team were members of the Lakeview Academy basketball team that won nine straight games in 2008, and with their 13-1 win against Prince Avenue Christian on Tuesday, the baseball version of the Lions won their fifth consecutive game.

"We’ve finally started to have more fun and play baseball," said Lions coach Deuce Roark, whose team began the year with three straight loses. "There was a lot of pressure on the basketball players at the beginning of the season. They were expected to step off the court and contribute to the baseball team right away and that was too much pressure to put on these kids."

Now that the pressure is off and the team is having fun, the Lions (6-4, 3-0 Region 8-A) are playing baseball as well as anybody in the region.

During their current streak, the Lions have scored an average of 13 runs per game and have outscored their opponents 65-23. And at 3-0 in 8-A, the Lions are tied with Jefferson for first place in the region.

At the plate, the Lions were led by Jacob Whitenton was 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored and Colin King drove in two runs and also scored a run against the Wolverines.

After surrendering a first-inning run to Prince Avenue Christian, the Lions came back in the bottom of the first inning by scoring three runs on only one hit.

Haughton Carswell led off with a walk and advanced to third base when Ralston Cash hit a towering fly ball that was lost in the sun by Prince Avenue’s (2-3, 1-2) outfielder. Cash, Carswell and Brett Armour, who reached on an error, all scored when an Angus Ferguson infield ground ball was misplayed.

The Lions too had their share of miscues, but they were able to overcome them due to the strong pitching performance of the sophomore Cash. He finished the game with nine strikeouts and allowed only three hits.

Lakeview Academy blew the game wide open in the bottom of the second, scoring five runs on one hit, three walks, two hit batters and two more PAC errors.

Tyler Ward was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to second base after Ross Biegler walked.

Ward scored on a Whitenton infield single. After Colin King walked to load the bases, Cash and Ferguson both drew walks that increased the Lions lead to 6-1.

Three pitches later, Matt Reynolds was hit in the head by a pitch, allowing King to score from third. And another error by Prince Avenue, on a ball hit by Ward, scored Cash to put the finishing touch on the inning.

"We always want to put pressure on the other team," Roark said. "Sometimes success is not what you do, but what the other team doesn’t do."

Lakeview Academy notched five more runs in the fourth inning, but unlike the previous five run inning, it was the Lions bats that accounted for the runs.

With one out in the fourth inning Reynolds and Ward hit back-to-back infield singles. Reynolds scored on an error and Ward came around to score when Whitenton capped off his perfect day at the plate with an RBI single up the middle, his third two-strike hit on the day.

"(Whitenton) hasn’t really played a lot," Roark said. "We inserted him today as a spark for the offense."

Two batters later, King hit a double down the third-base line that scored Whitenton and Carswell, who reached on a walk.

With the score 13-1, Cash put the finishing touches on his great day on the mound by striking out two of the final four batters he faced.

"We watched them yesterday and knew they struggled hitting off-speed stuff," Cash said. "We knew we could set them up with the off-speed and then hit them with the fastballs late."

Lakeview Academy plays host to Towns County at 4:30 p.m. today.

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