The final scores were identical, but the outcomes were totally different for the Harlem High School baseball team.
The Bulldogs opened their Region 3-AAA schedule last week with a 13-2 road rout at Jefferson County High School, but the visiting Westside Patriots turned the tables in Wednesday's region contest at Harlem.
Harlem committed critical fielding errors, and Westside took advantage to post a 13-2 win.
"That's going to happen when you make mistakes," Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis said. "When you give people extra outs, you're going to pay the consequences."
In other region baseball action last week, Lakeside, Greenbrier and Augusta Christian all notched convincing wins.
Richardson is congratulated after being batted in during the second inning against Westside.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Behind a 13-strikeout performance from pitcher Patrick Bagwell, Lakeside earned an 8-1 victory in its Region 3-AAAA opener Tuesday at Statesboro.
Greenbrier began the defense of its Region 3-AAAA crown by blowing out Cross Creek 10-0. What's more, that mercy-rule win came on the heels of the Pack's 10-0 shocker at Marist, where Greenbrier humbled the defending Class AAAA state champions March 28.
March went out like a lion for Augusta Christian, and so far, April has been pretty pleasing as well -- AC trounced defending state champion George Walton Academy 10-0 on March 28, and the Lions added another Region 4-AAA romp Tuesday at Augusta Prep. Augusta Christian senior Jordan Belcher blasted two homers during the 12-0 win over the Cavaliers.
Harlem, meanwhile, gained some confidence with the easy victory against Jefferson County. Pitcher Jordan Whitaker worked a complete game and allowed just four hits, and he also went 3-for-4 to lead the Dogs at the plate. Mike Morris had a 2-for-2 outing for Harlem.
Heading into the showdown with Westside, Lewis admitted his team needed to play perfect baseball to challenge the Patriots, the No. 2 ranked team in Class AAAA.
Harlem was far from perfect. Errors in the first and sixth innings sparked the Patriots to five-run rallies in each of those frames.
With Westside fielding one of its best teams in years, the rest of the Region 3-AAAA squads might be fighting for second place in the region race. There is a nice consolation prize, as the Nos. 1 and 2 finishers are at home in the first round of the state tournament.
"The way I look at it, first and second place play at home in the state playoffs," Lewis said. "We've got a rough road to take first now, but our goal is to play at home, so we have to win the rest of the region games like we're supposed to, and I think we can."
Harlem will play at home Monday in a nonregion doubleheader with Cross Creek, and then resume region play after Masters Week. The Dogs won't be taking much of a break, though, as Lewis plans to have practices this Friday and Saturday to tune some things up.
Considering the Dogs really need to shore up their glove-work, you can bet the practice sessions will include a lot of ground balls and pop ups.
"The key for us is to play defense," Lewis said. "We have some good pitchers, but they aren't going to throw it by anybody. Our pitchers are going to be hit, and if we don't play defense behind them, we're in trouble."
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