Augusta Christian baseball coach Craig Johnson sounded somewhat encouraged last week, despite the finish to the game he had just witnessed.
The Lions led most of the way during their 8-4 loss to region-rival Hammond at home on March 19. All eight of the Skyhawks' runs came in the final two innings after Lions starter Jackson Whitley was able to quiet their bats for five innings. Whitley struck out nine and, through five innings, allowed only one base runner past first.
The Lions led 3-0 entering the sixth, but went to bat in the bottom of the inning with the game tied. Senior William Banks hit an RBI-double that gave Augusta Christian the lead entering the final inning.
Whitley, whose pitch count had risen considerably in the sixth, left the game in favor of Mike Robinson, who was pitching on more than a week's rest.
"He was fresh enough," Johnson said. "We should have made some plays behind him."
Robinson struck out the first batter he faced in the seventh. The next Hammond batter reached on an error to start the rally.
The Lions fared better at the plate.
Banks finished 3-for-4 with two RBI. He singled and scored in the bottom of the third and led off the fifth with a solo home run to give his team a 3-0 cushion. After the Skyhawks rallied to tie it, Banks drove home the go-ahead run in the seventh.
Johnson was pleased with the production, but said his team needed to put together a complete game to compete for a region title.
The Lions, who won three consecutive state titles ending in 2007, fell to 1-2 in SCISA Region 1-AAA.
Augusta Christian still has two games remaining against region-leading Heathwood Hall.
"I feel like we can make some noise," Johnson said. "But we got to start playing consistent."
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