Southland loses heartbreaking doubleheader at Pinewood Christian

Published 3:14 am Tuesday, May 8, 2018

By Staff Reports


Bellville, GA – In both games against Pinewood Christian, the Southland Academy Raiders had the lead late, but were unable to close the deal as Pinewood Christian defeated the Raiders 2-1 in the first game and 11-6 in the second game on Friday, May 4, in the first round of the GISA Class AAA Baseball State Playoffs at Pinewood Christian Academy.

Game 1 was a pitcher’s duel between both teams as nobody could score a run until the top of the fourth inning. The Raiders got on the board first in the fourth. With one out, George Wall reached first with a walk. Then Wall advanced to second on an error by PCA starting pitcher Wade Durrence. Wall then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Luke Law hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Wall to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.

Southland starting pitcher Harrison Bell continued to pitch brilliantly. Up until the bottom of the sixth inning, Bell held PCA scoreless.

However, the Patriots finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, James Rogers doubled to left field, putting the tying run in scoring position for the Patriots. Ethan Duckworth followed with a single to right field, advancing Rogers to third. Collin Woolard then popped out to second baseman Will Hubbard, and the Raiders were one out away from taking the all-important Game 1.

However, the Patriots had other plans. Jacob Hendrix singled to left field, driving in both Rogers and Duckworth and giving Pinewood Christian a 2-1 lead. Logan Lewis grounded out to end the inning, but the damage had been done. The Raiders were only one out away from winning the first game. Instead, they found themselves trailing 2-1 going to the seventh. They would have to execute a come-from-behind victory.

Things started out promising for Southland as Luke Law led off the top of the seventh with a single. Ross Minick then hit a ground ball right to Durrence, who threw Minick out at first, but Law advanced to second on the play. Freddie Updike them grounded, advancing Law to third base. The Raiders were down to their final out, but a single would tie the game.

However, Will Hubbard was unable to come through as he grounded out to end the first game. Pinewood Christian had gotten two runs in the bottom of the sixth to beat the Raiders in the first game.

Now, it was do or die for Southland Academy. Could they shake off the disappointment from the heartbreaking loss of Game 1. Harrison Bell had pitched so well for the Raiders. He worked six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits. He struck out three and walked none. However, Southland struggled at the plate in the first game. The Raiders could only manage three hits against Wade Durrence. Tyler Kennedy and Hunter McCain each went 1-for-3, and Luke Law went 1-for-2. The Patriots strung together seven hits against Bell, although scoring only two runs. Ben Salter, Ethan Duckworth and James Rogers each went 1-for-3, but the big damage came from Jacob Hendrix. Hendrix went 2-for-3 at the plate, the second of which drove in the two runs that won the Patriots the first game.

On the mound, Wade Durrence pitched the entire game, giving up one run on three hits. He struck out six and walked one.

The Raiders would have to find a way to put Game 1 behind them and try to win Game 2 to force a third and deciding game on Saturday, May 5. Ross Minick started on the mound for the Raiders. In the second game, Southland was the home team. Just like in the first game, the Raiders scored first. In the bottom of the first inning, Tyler Kennedy reached on an error by second baseman Ben Salter. After Hunter McCain flew out for the first out of the inning, Harrison Bell doubled to left field, scoring Kennedy and giving the Raiders a 1-0 lead early in the game.

The Raiders added another run in the bottom of the second. Ross Minick led off with a walk against PCA starting pitcher Ethan Duckworth. Minick then stole second base. Freddie Updike grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Minick was able to score from second on the play to give Southland a 2-0 lead.

Pinewood Christian would answer in the top of the third. The Patriots were able to get a man in scoring position at third base. James Rogers then hit a sacrifice fly, scoring the runner from third to cut Southland’s lead to 2-1.

The Raiders struck back in their half of the third. With one out, Harrison Bell doubled to center field. After George Wall grounded out, Luke Law singled, scoring Bell to give the Raiders a 3-1 lead.

Pinewood Christian responded in the top of the fourth with a run to cut the Raiders’ lead back to one run at 3-2. Southland answered in the bottom of the fourth as Landon Law singled to center field, scoring Will Hubbard. The Raiders added another run when Tyler Kennedy singled, driving in Landon Law to make it 5-2 Raiders. In the top of the fifth inning, Southland extended their lead to 6-2. Luke Law led off with a double. After Minick struck out, Freddie Updike singled, advancing Law to third. Will Hubbard then hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Law. It looked as if the Raiders were going to take the second game and force a third game.

However, Pinewood Christian began their comeback. The Patriots scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth, cutting the Raiders’ lead to 6-4.

However, the Raiders were now three outs away from evening the series and forcing a third and deciding game. Ross Minick was still pitching for the Raiders, and he was able to get two outs with a man on first.

However, it was at this point that the roof caved in on the Raiders and their season. The runner at first advanced to second on a passed ball. Then Minick walked James Rogers. With runners at first and third and two out, Ethan Duckworth singled to left field, driving in a run and making the score 6-5 Southland. With runners at first and second with two outs, Collin Woolard was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Jacob Hendrix. Hendrix was the hero in Game 1 for the Patriots when he drove in two runs to win it for PCA in the first game. He was the hero in the second game as well, belting a grand slam home run over the left-field wall., and giving the Patriots a 9-6 lead. Once again, the Raiders found themselves one out away from a win, and once again, they were dealt a cruel blow as it slipped away for a second time.

Will Hubbard came on in relief for Minick. However, Hubbard struggled as he hit the next three PCA batters. With the bases loaded Wade Durrence singled, scoring a run and making it 10-6 Patriots. PCA would add another run before their half of the seventh ended. Once again, Southland would have to find a way to rally, this time down by five runs.

However, there would be no come-from-behind win for the Raiders. The next three Southland batters were retired in order, and Pinewood Christian took the second game 11-6, thus winning the series and advancing on in the state playoffs. Southland’s season had come to an end.

Harrison Bell went 2-for-4 for the Raiders. He drove in a run and scored a run. Luke Law also went 2-for-4 at the plate, scoring a run and driving in one as well. Freddie Updike also went 2-for-4 and drove in a run.

Jacob Hendrix led the Patriots in offense, going 3-for-4, including the grand slam home run in the top of the seventh. He scored two runs and drove in five. Ethan Duckworth also had a good day at the plate for PCA. Duckworth went 2-for-3, scoring three runs and driving in an RBI.

Ross Minick pitched 6.2 innings for the Raiders. He gave up six runs on nine hits, five of them earned. He struck out six and walked two. Will Hubbard came on in relief of Minick. Unfortunately for Hubbard, he gave up the grand slam home run to Hendrix in the top of the seventh. Ethan Duckworth pitched the entire game for PCA. Duckworth gave up six runs on nine hits. He struck out five and walked two.