Sandy Creek and Fayette County saved plenty of fireworks for their season-ending baseball series. Game one was a game of the year candidate as both sides had a huge rally before the Patriots won 12-11 in extra innings. Fayette responded in game two with a 5-3 victory.
In a night of wild momentum swings, it was the Tigers that grabbed control first. Terrell Sims plated the first run in the top of the first on an infield hit. The second inning would be even more fruitful for both Sims and the Tigers. Chaz Walker roped a two-run, two out RBI double to score Darius Hightower and Miles Berry. Bradley Harmon followed with an RBI triple, then Sims stepped into the box again. The big first baseman smoked a three-run home run to put his Tigers ahead 7-0.
Sandy Creek settled in and tried to slowly chip away at the deficit. One run came in the second on an Andrew Hughes run-scoring single. One more came in the third on an Austin Morse sacrifice fly.
The floodgates flew open in the fifth inning with an eight-run outburst. The bases were quickly loaded with no outs as Drew Darcy and Grant Hurston drew walks and Morse got on with an infield single. Armondo Mendoza drove in two with a single, then Thomas Parr and Trevin Bolden each plated one to make it a 7-6 game.
The Patriots weren’t done yet, thanks to heady base running. Bolden moved over to third on a bunt single from Demetrious Worthy and a fielder’s choice, then timed out the pitcher’s windup and stole home to tie the score. Darcy came back to the plate and laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to easily score Rodney Randers, only the Patriots wanted more. Parker Mallet read the bunt and rounded third at full speed, sliding home before the Tigers could catch him. Darcy’s two-run bunt, and an ensuing Hurston RBI knock gave Sandy Creek a 10-7 after the furious fifth.
In the sixth, the Patriots tacked on one more run on another steal of home, this time by Parr, for their eleventh unanswered run and an 11-7 lead.
Fayette didn’t get down. Instead, they rebounded to set up an epic finish. After a leadoff walk by Hightower to start the seventh, a bobbled flyout, and a strikeout the Tigers were down to their final out. A RBI single by Jack Ridgeway started the ball rolling. Harmon followed with a double, then Kawaan Baker strode to the plate to do the big damage. Baker blasted a three-run home run to left field to tie the game back up at 11-11.
Harmon came on in relief in the bottom of the seventh and got out of a two-on, one out jam to send the game to extra innings.
Drew Hodges got on base from an error to start the eighth, but they wouldn’t score.
Parr started the bottom of the eighth with a free pass after he took one in the back. He would move over to third with a pair of sacrifices, but two outs. Parker Mallet came through for his team, poking a walk-off single through the middle of the infield for the winning run.
Chaz Walker got the start for Fayette and threw four innings, allowing two runs. Banks Ream got the nod for Sandy Creek, but gave way to the bullpen after two innings. Isaiah McIntosh threw two and two-thirds scoreless before Lawson Dial and Thomas Parr did the rest.
The Tigers responded in Thursday’s game two with the kind of performance they’ve been searching for all season in a 5-3 win.
“I’m very proud of them tonight,” said coach Bill Lightle. “We played tonight with our heads and our hearts. We took care of the baseball. The plays that the infield should make, we made. We moved runners around. It feels good to win one.”
Chaz Walker set the tone with another fine start, going six and one-third innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out three. He also drove in a run at the plate.
“Chaz Walker pitched a fantastic game,” said Lightle.
Drew Hodges earned the save, coming on in a bases loaded, one-out jam to shut down the Patriots.
A pair of sophomores split the load for Sandy Creek and did well. Lawson Dial got the start and threw five innings, allowing four runs. Isaiah McIntosh came on in relief and pitched one inning.
For Fayette, the game was a continuation of a strong run offensively, especially for Terrell Sims.
“We hit the ball pretty well,” said Lightle. “Our big first baseman (Sims), the last half dozen games, is smacking the ball.”
On senior night, it was also fitting that the Tigers’ veteran duo led the way to victory.
Bradley Harmon, their versatile and vocal leader, set up behind the dish and flashed a steady glove and rocket arm as Walker’s battery mate. He went 3-for-3 with two RBI and a triple at the plate, but his biggest play came in the field. With the Patriots rallying in the top of the seventh, a Patriot runner got greedy and tried to swipe third on a pitch in the dirt. Harmon corralled the ball and threw a laser on the money to Ahmad Ali for the tag and the winning out.
Sam Delgado got on base twice, once when he was plunked and once when he hustled out an infield single, and scored a run. He, too, was strong in the field patrolling left field. His best play came in the fourth inning when he caught a pop fly with a runner on third and threw a dart home to keep him from running.
“Delgado made some nice plays in the field. Bradley made a great throw (for the final out) and had a couple big hits,” said Lightle. “They’re two great kids.”
Fayette got on the board right away in the bottom of the first. Harmon reached on a single, then would head home on a Hayden Clipp base knock. They added two more in the second inning. Miles Berry singled and was driven home on a RBI double by Walker. Harmon plated Walker to make it 3-0.
After Sandy Creek got on the board, it was Harmon who struck again in the fourth to extend the lead. Delgado got on with an infield hit, and Harmon smoked a triple to drive him in for a 4-1 lead.
Fayette added their final run in the sixth with heady base running. Darius Hightower drew a walk and got himself over to third base on a Berry out. On a wild pitch, Hightower raced home for a 5-1 lead.
Just as they showed on Tuesday, the Patriots are a resilient bunch. Even though their rally fell short this time, they put their opponent to the test at the end. Sandy Creek pushed their first run across in the fourth on a Drew Darcy sacrifice to score Andrew Hughes.
Trailing 5-1 heading into the seventh inning, they chipped away some more. Grant Hurston, Bryant Walker, and Thomas Farr got on with free passes to load the bases with one out. Jared Kent singled to plate one, then Cole Jackson’s sac fly made it a 5-3 game. Unfortunately for Sandy Creek, they could not muster anymore runs, running into the final out on Harmon’s throw to third.
The Tigers and Patriots finished off the three-game series Friday night back on Sandy Creek’s diamond.
For more photos from the series, click [btn type=”default or primary or success or info or warning or danger or link” link=”http://www.cdphotography23.com/Sports/High-School/Baseball/Baseball-2015″]here[/btn].