The Augusta Christian School baseball team was denied on two fronts last week in the Georgia Independent Schools Association Class AAA state playoffs.
The Lions lost in a tense three-game series at AC, and Southland Academy found a way to stop Jordan Belcher's quest for a school record.
The Raiders opened the state quarterfinal series with a 15-5 rout, but Augusta Christian rallied to win the second game 6-5.
The deciding game was interrupted by rain, with Southland leading 3-2 in the fourth inning. The teams returned to finish the contest last Wednesday, and the Raiders pulled out a 5-4 victory in eight innings.
"We played well. We had some opportunities, but we couldn't capitalize," AC coach Craig Johnson said.
Jordan Belcher: AC slugger ends season with three walks.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The state-playoff loss ended AC's season. The Lions finished with a 15-4-2 record and won their first region title since 1998.
"I believe we had a year that a lot of people didn't expect us to have. We surprised some people," Johnson said of his first coaching campaign with the Lions.
Belcher also surprised some people in 2003. He entered the Southland series with 16 home runs, and belted two homers in the series to tie the AC record of 18, which was set in 1999 by BJ Hawes.
After Belcher homered in his first at-bat in the third game, Southland had seen enough - the Raiders intentionally walked the AC senior in his final three trips to the plate.
Despite being denied the chance to set a new home-run standard, Belcher posted one of the best seasons in Columbia County history.
"He had a great season, one of the better seasons I've seen from a player at any level," Johnson said. "Every time he came to the plate he had an opportunity to hit a home run."
Belcher has signed to play baseball for the University of South Carolina Aiken next season, his plans are subject to change. His display of power might be enough to earn a selection in the major-league amateur draft.
"I think his stock has always been there around our association. He's well thought of, as far as what he can do with the bat and his arm," Johnson said. "We'll have to wait until the June draft and see. It's a definite possibility that he could be drafted."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.