Southland Academy Baseball Team earns split in three-team tournament
Published 3:10 pm Sunday, April 3, 2022
AMERICUS – It was a bittersweet Saturday for the Southland Academy Baseball Team (SAR). The Raiders (8-4) were in control in their first game against Westfield before the fifth inning, when three SAR errors led to four runs for the Hornets and would eventually lead to an 8-5 defeat for the Raiders. However, SAR bounced back in their second game against Southwest Georgia Academy (SGA). SAR shortstop Henry Johnson belted his first home run of the season in the first inning and would later drive in a run on an RBI double in the second to help lead the Raiders to a 7-0 victory over SGA on Saturday, April 2 at Southland Academy.
After the Raiders’ victory over SGA, SAR Head Coach John Brady told the Americus Times-Recorder that the biggest thing that he is concerned about is that his team performs with consistency.
“If you take one inning out of the first game against a really good Westfield team, we’ve got a chance to win that game,” Brady said. Coach Brady went on to say that the Raiders’ starting pitcher in Game 1 against Westfield, Perry Usher, was ‘really, really good’, but acknowledged that the three errors made in the fifth inning were costly. “That is the consistency I’ve been talking about that we’ve got to get to,” Brady said. “We’ve got to get past some of that. We’re getting closer. We’re getting closer, but we’ve got to get a little more consistent with that. In the second game, SGA is always a really scrappy team and I was tickled the way we swung the bat and played good defense. We threw a lot of strikes and we did a great job.”
In Game 1 against Westfield (WS), the Raiders broke the scoreless deadlock in the bottom of the third inning. Hudson Collins and Henry Johnson led off the frame with back-to-back singles and Johnson would later score to give SAR a 1-0 lead. Then Perry Usher drove in another run on an RBI single and the Raiders led 2-0.
The Hornets threatened in the top of the fourth when Ryan Powers and Hardy Hudson both singled to put runners on first and second with one out, but Usher was able to retire the next two batters to end the threat.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Raiders had runners at first and second with two outs before Johnson drove in Buddy Brady from second to give SAR a 3-0 lead. However, while things seemed to be going smoothly for the Raiders up to this point, things would change drastically in the top of the fifth.
With one out in the top of the fifth inning, WS got a runner on board when Jake Canterbury reached second base on an error and James Hays took advantage by driving in Canterbury on an RBI single. Grey Brannen then reached on another SAR error and that allowed Cole Miller to drive in the Hornets’ second run of the game on an RBI double to right field. Just like that, the Raiders’ lead had been cut to 3-2.
After Ryan Powers was intentionally walked to load the bases, Brannen scored the Hornets’ tying run on a wild pitch and Usher walked Hardy Hudson to load the bases again. Usher was able to get James Hays to pop out in foul territory for the second out, but Ty Shelton reached on the Raiders’ third error of the inning and that allowed Miller to score to give the Hornets a 4-3 lead. Unfortunately for SAR, the fifth inning of this game would be the turning point in the wrong direction.
In the top of the sixth, the Hornets scored four more runs on three hits, two walks and another error by the Raiders, their fourth of the game.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Raiders tried to fight back. Greer Hagerson was hit by a pitch by WS pitcher Cole Miller to lead off the frame and Luke Exley drew a walk to put runners on first and second with nobody out for SAR. Buddy Brady grounded into a fielder’s choice for the first out, but Caleb Law drew a walk to load the bases for Hudson Collins. Miller was able to strike out Collins, but Henry Johnson came through with a two-run single to bring the Raiders closer at 8-5.
However, the comeback bid would not be enough, as Miller was able to get Chase Ledger to fly out to end the game.
In total, the Hornets (10-4) scored eight runs on eight hits and committed one error, while the Raiders scored five runs on seven hits and committed four costly errors.
Johnson went 3 for 4 in this game to lead the Raiders’ offense with three singles, three RBIs and a run scored.
SAR used three pitchers in this game. Usher, who started on the mound, gave up four runs on five hits, walked five and struck out four in five innings of work. Greer Hagerson came on in relief of Usher and gave up three runs on two hits and walked one in 0.1 innings. Matthew Saint was the third and final pitcher used by the Raiders. In 0.2 innings of work, Saint gave up one run on a hit and walked one batter.
Ryan Powers led the Hornets’ offense by going 2 for 3 at the plate with a run scored and James Hays went 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Canterbury was the starting pitcher for WS and in five innings of work, he gave up three runs on six hits, walked two and struck out six Raiders. Cole Miller came on in relief of Canterbury and gave up two runs on a hit, while walking two and striking out one.
The second game of the day featured Westfield against Southwest Georgia Academy (SGA) and the Hornets had no problem with the Warriors, as they won 15-1. It was now time for the Raiders to come away with a split in the three-team tournament, as they faced SGA in their second game.
Things could not have gotten off to a better start for the Raiders, as Henry Johnson belted his first home run of the season in the bottom of the first inning to give SAR a 1-0 lead. Shortly thereafter, the Raiders added to their lead when Greer Hagerson drove in Chase Ledger to increase the SAR lead to 2-0.
In the bottom of the second, the Raiders added three more runs on two hits, an error and a fielder’s choice. The big blow came off the bat of Johnson again, as he drove in Buddy Brady on an RBI double. Ledger then reached on an error that allowed Hudson Collins to score and Usher brought home Johnson when he grounded into a fielder’s choice, making it 5-0 in favor of SAR.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Raiders added two more runs by taking advantage of two walks and an error. With runners at first and second and one out, Brady drew a walk off SGA pitcher Ty Williams. Caleb Law then drove in Hagerson on a fielder’s choice and Fisher Britt scored SAR’s seventh and final run of the game on a passed ball to complete the 7-0 shut out victory.
SGA did not threaten much offensively, as SAR pitchers Chase Ledger and Greer Hagerson were on their games. Over the first three innings, Ledger only allowed two hits and two walks while striking out four and Hagerson allowed just one hit while walking two and striking out three.
Johnson once again was stellar at the plate. He went 3 for 3 with a home run, a double, two RBIs and scored two runs. Usher went 1 for 3 with an RBI and Hagerson went 1 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored. Both Buddy Brady and Hudson Collins also had a hit in the contest. Brady went 1 for 1 with a run scored and Collins went 1 for 3 and scored a run.
With the win over the Warriors, the Raiders are now 8-4 on the season and are 3-0 in Region 3-AAA competition.
Banks Johnson went 2 for 3 to lead SGA’s offense and starting pitcher Jaxson Haire, who also pitches for the Americus Travelers, gave up five runs on six hits and walked one batter. SGA is now 8-8 overall on the season.
The Raiders will step back into region play when they travel down to Chula, GA on Tuesday, April 5 to take on Tiftarea Academy. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.