Schley County sweeps Lake Oconee Academy to advance to quarterfinals
Published 11:49 am Friday, May 5, 2023
ELLAVILLE – The Schley County High School baseball team swept both games of the best of three game series with Lake Oconee Academy in the second round of the GHSA Class A Division II state playoffs. They shut out the Titans in Game 1 by the score of 6-0 and then dominated their way to a 10-3 victory in Game 2 at Wildcat Park on Thursday, May 4.
The victory moves the Wildcats (24-7) into the quarterfinal round of the GHSA Class A Division II Baseball Tournament where they will host Wilcox County on Wednesday, May 10.
The first two innings were scoreless, as SCHS staring pitcher Owen Lamb and LOA starting pitcher Garrett Payne were locked in a pitchers’ duel, but in the bottom of the third inning, the Wildcats used small ball to score two runs. Ashton Raybon reached first base to lead off the frame by getting hit by a pitch. Then Jake Little singled to right field, allowing Raybon to advance to third. Jay Kanazawa then executed a sacrifice bunt that allowed Raybon to score and the Wildcats had a 1-0 lead. Carson Westbrook then grounded into a fielder’s choice that allowed Little to score from third and SCHS had a 2-0 lead.
However, in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Wildcats broke the game open by scoring four runs on four hits. Little led off the frame with a double and Kanazawa followed with a bunt single. Kanazawa was later picked off at first base, but Westbrook came through with an RBI double, making the score 3-0 in favor of SCHS.
Brody Fuller followed with a single and Jack Clark was intentionally walked, loading the bases for Owen Lamb. However, LOA’s plan backfired, as Lamb drew an RBI walk to make it 4-0 Wildcats.
Fuller would later score on a passed ball and Trenton Stubbs drove in the Wildcats’ sixth and final run of the game on a sacrifice fly to left field.
While the offense did its job, Owen Lamb once again was his dominant self on the mound. He pitched seven scoreless innings and gave up only two hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
“The biggest thing was Owen Lamb on the bump,” SCHS head coach Chuck Cheek said. “I told him a while ago that that was what we’ve always thought he could be. He was dominant. He was throwing three pitches for strikes. His change up was outstanding today. We had a lead and he just kept putting zeros up on the board and the defense was playing well behind him. That is as long as he has gone this year in a game, as far as the number of pitches thrown. And it was really good. He was the shut down number one guy today.”
Little led the SCHS offense by going 2 for 2 at the plate with a double, a walk and two runs scored. In total, the Wildcats only had six hits, but they were able to make them count.
In Game 2, it didn’t take long fir the Wildcats to establish control and to determine the outcome. As the visiting team in Game 2, they scored two runs in the top of the first inning. The Titans countered in the bottom half of the inning with a run, but in the top of the second, the Wildcats scored three more runs on three hits and took advantage of two walks. The big hit in the inning was an RBI double by Owen Lamb that scored Carson Westbrook and gave the Wildcats a 5-1 lead.
Then in the top of the third, the Wildcats added two more runs on a two run double by Kanazawa. The Titans tried to stay within striking distance and scored a run in the bottom of the third, but SCHS exploded again with three more runs in the top of the fifth on three hits, with two of them being home runs. Ashton Raybon led off the inning with a solo home run over the center field wall and Brody Fuller would later hit an inside-the-park home run. At this point, the Wildcats led 10-2 and would go on to salt away a 10-3 victory to sweep the series and advance to the state quarterfinals.
Westbrook, Lamb, Brody Smith, Raybon and Kanazawa each had two hits in this game for the Wildcats and Brody Fuller went 1 for 3 with the inside-the-park home run and three RBIs.
Jake Little started Game 2 for the Wildcats and gave up two runs on two hits with four walks and two strikeouts in a little over two innings of work. Brody Smith came on in relief of Little and gave up a run on two hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
Ashton Raybon was the final pitcher used by SCHS. He came in late in the bottom of the seventh inning and struck out LOA’s Trace Wood to seal the Game 2 victory and the series sweep for the Wildcats.
SCHS (24-7) will host Wilcox County on Wednesday, May 10 in the quarterfinals of the GHSA Class A Division II state playoffs. Game 1 will begin at 4 p.m., followed by Game 2 at 6:30 p.m. If a third game is necessary, it will be played on Thursday, May 11 at 6 p.m.