Baseball season came to an early end last weekend at Lakeside High School. The Panthers dropped two out of three games to visiting Effingham County in the first round of the Region 3-AAAA Tournament.
Lakeside lost to the Rebels 15-3 in Game 1 on Thursday, but turned the tables with an 11-6 Panthers win in the second game of the doubleheader.
The third game, played Saturday, posed pitching problems for both teams. Lakeside and Effingham County used their Nos. 1 and 2 pitchers in the Thursday doubleheader and had to look deeper into the pitching rotation.
"Coming into the series I felt confident with our three starters, but then our No. 3 guy went down (with an ankle injury)," Effingham County baseball coach Brett Griffin said.
That put the ball in the hands of reliever Josh Moreland. The usual starting center fielder threw a complete-game five-hitter and got out of several jams in Game 3. Effingham County backed him up offensively and tallied seven runs on 12 hits off three Lakeside pitchers.
"We hit the ball well," Griffin said. "We felt like this weekend we swung the bats better than any other times this season."
The 7-0 Panthers loss sent Effingham County to the region semifinals and ended Lakeside's season. It was a hard loss for the seven Lakeside seniors who stepped off the field for the final time.
More than a few tears were shed among teammates.
"Baseball is life, and most of us have been playing since we were little," Lakeside senior John Arena said. "We did better than a lot of people thought we would this year. Unfortunately it had to end this way."
With a final record of 13-11, the Panthers finished a strong regular-season run at second place in the Region 3B-AAAA standings ahead of Evans, Statesboro and the Academy of Richmond County. The Panthers swept region rival Evans this season and finished with a 5-3 subregion record.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.