Raiders fall to Terrell Academy in second round of state playoffs

Published 4:35 pm Sunday, May 7, 2023

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AMERICUS – After pulling off a 9-7 win in Game 1 on Friday in their second round playoff series against Terrell Academy (TA), the Southland Academy Raiders (SAR) were one win away from advancing to the next round of the GIAA Class AAA State Playoffs. However, the Eagles of TA, the defending GIAA Class AAA state champions, responded with a dominating 9-1 victory over SAR in Game 2, thus forcing a third and winner-take-all Game 3 on Saturday. After three innings of play in Game 3, the Raiders had a 3-2 lead, but the Eagles scored two runs in the top of the fifth, six runs in the sixth and five in the seventh to hand the Raiders a 15-3 defeat on Saturday, May 6, at the Southland Academy baseball complex. As a result, TA (16-12) won the best of three games series and ended the Raiders’ season at 15-12.

“We got outplayed for the most part. We made mistakes and pitched behind in the count way too much,” SAR Head Coach John Brady said. “Against a good hitting team, we have to get ahead in the count and command our off speed pitches. Terrell has been red hot and they’re playing great right now. On the season, I’m really proud of the guys and what they accomplished. We got better each week. We were 5-5 coming in to spring break and after spring break, 8-3 heading into the playoffs. We earned region runner up in a really tough region and finished #2 in the MaxPreps rankings. This is a really good team that just ran into another good, hot team in the playoffs. The seniors, Chase Ledger, Henry Johnson, Luke Exley, Scout Luvin and Matt Saint have done a great job leading this program and will be missed greatly,” Brady continued.

Southland Academy senior first baseman Luke Exley is seen here sliding home safely.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Early in Game 3, the Raiders trailed the Eagles 2-0, but in the bottom of the second, SAR rallied for two runs on two hits, one of them being an RBI double by Scout Luvin. After Luvin’s RBI double, Henry Johnson was able to tie the game at 2-2 when he drove in a run on a fielder’s choice.

Then in the bottom of the third inning, the Raiders took the lead 3-2 on a sacrifice Fly by Chase Ledger, but unfortunately for SAR, that would be the only time of the game that they would have the lead.

In the top of the fifth, the Eagles scored two runs on three hits and took advantage of a walk. Daylor Drawdy drove in the tying run on an RBI single and Dozier Swain followed that up with an RBI double that would give the Eagles the lead for good.

Southland Academy catcher Will Godwin makes contact.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Then in the top of the sixth, TA exploded for six runs on five hits to take a 10-3 lead and would then add five more runs in the top of the seventh on two hits. The big hit of the inning was a three-run home run by Dozier. During the sixth and seventh innings, walks and errors also proved to be costly for the Raiders and they played a part in the Eagles’ barrage of runs.

In total, the Eagles scored 15 runs on 12 hits and committed two errors, while the Raiders were only able to score three runs on four hits and committed three errors.

Southland Academy freshman Mac McMichael is seen here pitching for the Raiders in Game 3.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Henry Johnson, Luke Tarrer, Trey Sellers and Scout Luvin each came up with a hit in Game 3, with Johnson driving in a run and Ledger driving in another on a sacrifice fly.

Freshman Mac McMichael got the start on the mound for SAR in Game 3. In a little over four innings of work, McMichael gave up four runs on five hits and walked four batters. Trey Sellers came on in relief of McMichael and gave up nine runs on six hits and walked three in a little over an inning of work. Travis Pennington was the final pitcher used by the Raiders in Game 3. In less than an inning, he gave up two runs on one hit.

Daylor Drawdy led the Eagles’ offense by going 3 for 4 at the plate with five RBIs and a run scored and Dozier Swain went 2 for 5 with four RBIs and a run scored.

Southland Academy shortstop Perry Usher went 2 for 4 with three RBIs and a run scored in the Raiders 9-7 victory over Terrell Academy in Game 1.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Gavin Lacey ended up getting the win for the Eagles in Game 3, as he tossed four scoreless innings, giving up just two hits, walking three batters and striking out three.

While the final game of the series was a disappointing one for the Raiders, they did Raider Nation proud in the first game of the series on Friday by defeating the Eagles 9-7. In that game, they trailed 4-1 early, but rallied for eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on five hits and they took advantage of two walks, an error, a hit batsman and a dropped third strike. Both Luvin and Johnson each drove in runs on RBI singles and Perry Usher drove in three runs on an RBI double. Luke Tarrer drove in the Raiders’ final run of Game 1 on an RBI single and at that point, SAR led 9-4.

The Eagles tried to pull off a come-from-behind victory in the top of the seventh by scoring three runs, but SAR was able to hold on for the 9-7 victory in Game 1.

Both Perry Usher and Luke Tarrer each went 2 for 4 to lead the Raiders’ offense.

The Raiders’ ace and Albany State signee, Chase Ledger, got the start on the mound for SAR. In five innings of work, he gave up two runs on five hits, walked three batters and struck out six. McMichael came on in relief of Ledger and ended up getting the win. In an inning of work, he gave up two runs on two hits, walked two and struck out one.

Southland Academy’s Chase Ledger steals second base against Terrell Academy.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Perry Usher was the final SAR pitcher used in Game 1. In an inning of work, he gave up three runs on three hits, walked one and struck out one.

That victory put SAR within one more victory of advancing to the next round of the state playoffs. However, the Eagles had other ideas. They scored two runs in the first, five in the second and two more in the third to take a 9-0 lead. The Raiders were able to score a run in the top of the fifth on an RBI single by Luke Exley, but that would be it as far as offense was concerned for SAR in Game 2.

Though the Raiders will have to say goodbye to Chase Ledger, Scout Luvin, Henry Johnson, Luke Exley and Matthew Saint, they do have a good corps of underclassmen coming back next year and should battle once again for a long run in the postseason.