Lakeside baseball coach Jay Matthews has said all season that the Panthers needed to improve in situational hitting.
Lakeside first baseman J.C. Huffman pitches against Woodward Academy. In Game 1 on Wednesday night, Huffman pitched a no-hitter during the first four innings. He scored a run in the second game of the doubleheader, one of 17 for the Panthers in that game - their highest run output of the season.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
He got his wish Wednesday.
The Panthers (16-11) rallied with two outs for a six-run fourth inning to propel Lakeside to a 12-3 win over Woodward Academy in Game 1 of the best-of-three series in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs. Lakeside won Game 2, 17-7, for the series sweep.
"I have said it all along, when we hit the ball like we can, we are a very good baseball team," said Lakeside coach Jay Matthews. "We just need to keep the bats hot and I think we can make a run."
J.C. Huffman did his part on the mound in Game 1, carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning.
"It was disappointing to look up at the scoreboard and see that they were winning, 1-0, but didn't have any hits," Matthews said. "But we are confident and knew J.C. would step up. We know we are eventually going to have to play a three-game series, and we have three strong pitchers. We just need to find someone to step up and take the third spot."
In Game 2, the Panthers pounded out 20 hits and scored 17 runs, their highest run output of the season.
Lakeside pitcher Sean Harrell, first baseman J.C. Huffman and third baseman Tyler James all scored runs in the second game of the double-header. Craig Smith hit a home run to lead Lakeside.
Woodward racked up five runs in the third inning, but Lakeside managed to score six in the same inning. The War Eagles (16-8) trailed the Panthers by a wide margin throughout the game, which was originally scheduled to be played on Friday but was moved to accommodate Woodward's baccalaureate ceremonies.
"Early in the week, when we found out we were playing early, we didn't know if we wanted to do it, but we play Wednesday, so we'll have more rest than any of the other teams," Matthews said.
Playing earlier didn't bother Lakeside senior Tyler James either, but he was surprised by the number of hits his team racked up in Game 2.
"They gave us a lot of momentum," said James. "I don't think we've had 20 hits in any game this season."
Lakeside will take on either No. 1 Lee County or Luella on Wednesday in the next round of the playoffs. If Luella, which is ranked No. 3 in the Georgia Dugout Club poll, wins, Lakeside would be the home team; a Lee County win would send the Panthers to Leesburg, Ga.
"Obviously, we aren't looking past Woodward," Matthews said after Game 1. "But our guys would look forward to getting the chance to play Lee County."
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