It could have been a bad week for Lakeside. Instead, the Panthers came away with a win to remember.
Lakeside's schedule last week included three opponents ranked in the Class AAAA top 10. To make matters worse, they were all Region 3B-AAAA games.
A 5-0 loss to Greenbrier on Monday wasn't the start the team had hoped for.
"We didn't hit against Greenbrier, but we learned that if we do hit the ball we can play against anybody," Lakeside baseball coach Jay Matthews said.
Despite the loss, the Panthers used the Monday game as motivation for Wednesday. That's when Lakeside went to rival Evans, ranked No. 8 in Class AAAA, and came away with a 6-4 subregion victory.
"I had it in my head that we weren't going to lose," Lakeside pitcher J.C. Huffman said. "This is the first time we've beat Evans."
Huffman threw a complete game three-hitter to pick up his fourth win of the year. The Panther offense helped Huffman's cause with 11 hits to its credit.
The game remained in doubt, however, thanks to a few Panther fielding mistakes. Evans actually led two different times throughout the game, including a 3-1 advantage after Knight junior Kevin Millward crushed a three-run home run in the bottom of the third.
"I kept thinking we were controlling the game everywhere except in the run column," Matthews said.
Lakeside tied the game in the fourth inning after a two-RBI single from Will Evans during a two-out rally. Both teams scored in the fifth inning, and Lakeside took the lead in the sixth on a sacrifice fly from senior John Arena. The Panthers added one more run in the top of the seventh inning on a Chris Burns double.
That's when Evans put together one last push.
After two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Lakeside had trouble finishing the job and allowed two Knight batters on base thanks to a pair of infield errors.
"It was like the same, old, never-ending story," Arena said. "It was nerve wracking standing in the outfield watching all that."
Huffman closed the door on the potential rally by striking out Evans' Austin Effler to end the game and give Lakeside its first win over the Knights since 2005.
Huffman, who went 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI double in the fifth inning, improved to 4-1 with the victory. The senior finished one of the biggest wins of his high school career with six strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Matthews said Huffman's performance, combined with a strong day of hitting, made the difference.
"The thing is we've been hitting the ball pretty well. We're hitting .320 as a team," Matthews said. "The only thing is we'll have seven hits in a game, but they're scattered. We finally got the key two-out hits today."
Top of the standings
Greenbrier remained atop the Region 3B-AAAA standings after a 5-0 win over Lakeside on Monday. Junior pitcher Nolan Belcher allowed only two hits and struck out 11 to move the Wolfpack to 3-0 in subregion play. Senior Michael Hester led the way on offense with four RBI including a three-run home run.
Two Lion wins
Augusta Christian picked up two wins in two days this week with victories over Strom Thurmond and Cardinal Newman. The Lions knocked off Strom Thurmond 9-4 and Cardinal Newman 14-6 to improve to 7-4 on the season. Senior Josh Whitaker hit three home runs in the two games and went 4-for-7 with 8 RBI. Caleb Larisey (2-1) got the win over Strom Thurmond while Tyler Bourdo threw a complete game victory over Cardinal Newman.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.