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Schley County Outlasts Westfield in 12-inning marathon

PERRY – It took at least three hours and almost the equivalent of two seven-inning high school games, but the Schley County Wildcats were able to come away with a 4-2 victory over Westfield Friday night, March 23, at the Westfield School.

For those interested in the longest high school baseball game in US history, it took place on April 9, 1975 between two California teams: Hayward and San Lorenzo. The game was finally completed three weeks later on May 2, with Hayward winning 2-1 in 25 innings.

The game went 12 innings, nearly two games rolled into one, being that high school baseball plays seven innings. With the game tied at 2-2 in the top of the 12th, Schley County’s Ashton Goodin struck out to lead off the inning against Westfield reliever Gage Locke. However, Cameron Belcher hit a shallow fly ball that Westfield shortstop Hunter Spence was unable to handle. It ended up being a crucial error that would help lead the Wildcats to victory and prove costly to the Hornets. Dylan Taylor followed with a single, advancing Belcher all the way to third. Then Locke threw a wild pitch, allowing Belcher to score and give Schley County a 3-2 lead. Belcher advanced to second on the wild pitch.

Locke was relieved by Nathan Childers. Childers was able to get Trent Bivins to hit into a fielder’s choice. Dakota Albritton then singled, driving in Taylor to give the Wildcats a 4-2 lead.

Westfield tried to respond in their half of the 12th. After Hunter Spence grounded out, Wyatt Young drew a walk. Then Michael Fitzpatrick singled. However, Young tried to make it to third, but was thrown out. It was a base-running mistake that proved to be costly for Westfield as Tee Adams grounded out to end the 12-inning marathon.

“I felt like we hit the baseball well early in the game,” Schley County head coach Chuck Cheek said. “We got some guys on base. We had some good hits. We hit four or five balls in the gap to their outfielders. They have a lot of speed out there. They ran down some balls…made a couple of diving plays. With two outs, we had runners on the move…plays that could have scored a couple of runs early. Give credit to them. They made some great defensive plays. That’s one of the reasons we like playing Westfield. They’ve got tremendous athletes. They’ve got great facilities here and great coaches. We were in a similar kind of game last year where we were able to pull it out late. It’s just fun.”

Friday night’s game could not be more different than the game that took place on Thursday, March 22, between these two clubs in Ellaville. The Wildcats won in dominating fashion 12-3, thanks in part to five errors committed by the Hornets. Schley County, like any good baseball team, took advantage of those errors. They took advantage of errors made by the Hornets in Friday’s game as well. However, Friday’s game was, for the most part, a pitcher’s duel. Schley County starter Garrrett Peavy pitched 3.1 innings. He allowed one run on three hits. He struck out four and walked four. Michael Wainwright came on in relief in the fourth. Westfield had runners at second and third with one out, but Wainwright was able to retire the next two batters to end the threat. Wainwright pitched 1.2 innings. He allowed one run on two hits. He walked none and struck out one batter. Ashton Goodin came on in the sixth to relieve Wainwright. Goodin pitched two innings. He gave up no runs and only allowed one hit. He struck out one and walked none. Lorne Barineau had a tremendous outing in relief for the Wildcats. He pitched five innings, allowing no runs on two hits. He walked one and struck out five Westfield batters.

Schley County starting pitcher Garrett Peavy gave up one run on three hits. He struck out four and walked four.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Overall, Coach Cheek was extremely pleased with how his pitching staff performed, in particular, the work of Lorne Barineau and Michael Wainwright. “Lorne came in and he threw 15 pitches in three innings,” Cheek said. “He ended up getting more the next two innings he threw. I was really proud of Michael Wainwright. He came in and had a big inning or two for us. Garrett Peavy had a good start in the game.”  Cheek also had high praise for Dakota Albritton. “We brought him up from JV and stuck him in the lineup,” Cheek said. “My man had a huge hit tonight. That was great to see.”

Things started out promising for Shcley County to begin the game. Jordan Hall led off the game with a single. However, Chance Hollomon hit into a double play. Camron Vanlerberghe walked and stole second, but Wade Law struck out to end the inning. Both teams had runners in scoring position in the first three innings, but weren’t able to drive them in. Schley County got on the board first in the top of the fourth inning. With one out, Cameron Belcher and Dylan Taylor both singled. After Trent Bivins flew out for the second out, Dakota Albritton singled, loading the bases for the Wildcats. Jordan Hall got an RBI single, scoring Belcher. However, Taylor rounded third and tried to score, but was thrown out at the plate for the third out of the inning.

The Hornets responded in their half of the fourth as Hatch Brannen led off the inning with a walk. Then Chase Spence laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Brannen to second. Gage Locke then doubled home Brannen to tie the game. Matt Muse then singled and advanced to second when Hunter Spence hit into a fielder’s choice. Travis McDonald came in as a courtesy runner for Locke, and advanced to third. However, Wyatt Young hit into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.

Westfield took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, thanks partly to two errors committed by Vanlerberghe and Taylor. With two outs and runners at second and third for the Hornets, pinch hitter Matt Huckabee singled home Hatch Brannen to give Westfield a 2-1 lead. The Wildcats responded in the top of the sixth. Cameron Belcher was hit by a pitch. Logan Wurtz was brought in to run for Belcher and stole second base. After Dylan Taylor struck out, Trent Bivins singled, advancing Wurtz to third with one out. With one out in the top of the sixth and runners on base for the Wildcats, Dakota Albritton was up to bat, and the count was 3-and-2. On Bennett Wellman’s 3-2 offering to Albritton, Albritton started to swing, but checked his swing. The umpire called ball 4. However, Westfield assistant coach Danny Camp disagreed with the call, believing that Albritton had swung and missed for strike 3. Camp voiced his displeasure with the umpire, and for that, he was ejected from the game. Wurtz would later score on a fielder’s choice RBI by Jordan Hall, tying the game at 2-2. The score would remain that way until the top of the 12th inning, when Schley County scored two runs and held the Hornets in the bottom of the 12th to win the game.

Jordan Hall led the Wildcats’ offense at the plate. Hall went 3-for-7 with three singles and two RBIs. Dakota Albritton went 2-for-5 with the insurance RBI at the end of the game to give the Wildcats the 4-2 win. For Westfield, the were led offensively by Michael Fitzpatrick, who went 2-for-4 and scored a run.

Westfield starter Bennett Wellman pitched six innings. He gave up two runs on seven hits. He walked five and struck out three. Gage Locke had a solid performance in relief for Westfield. Locke pitched 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on one hit. He struck out six batters and walked two.

Schley County scored four runs on nine hits and committed two errors, while Westfield scored two runs on eight hits, but committed four errors. In the two games against the Wildcats, Westfield committed a combined total of nine errors.

The Wildcats are now 11-2 overall and 7-1 in Region 4-1A. They travel to Macon on Monday, March 26, to take on Mount de Sales Academy. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.