Photo: Coosa Christian’s Jackson Justus (right) is congratulated by head coach Joey Millican on the former’s home run during the Conquerors’ loss to Spring Garden in the first round of the Class 1A baseball playoffs last Friday (Aug. 20). (Grant Benefield/Cherokee County Herald)
By Grant Benefield/Cherokee County Herald
Behind 27 total runs, Spring Garden swept Coosa Christian last Friday (Aug. 20) in the first round of the Class 1A baseball playoffs.
The Panthers (20-7) won the first game, 12-6, and completed the sweep with a 15-5 victory in five innings in game 2.
Spring Garden advanced to play at Marion County in the second round on Friday, Aug. 27.
The Conquerors (18-10) led early in both contests but allowed the hosts to score in bunches late in each game.
Game 1 started quietly, with the Panthers leading 2-1 after four innings of play.
In the top of the fifth, a two-run blast over the right field wall from Conqueror first baseman Jackson Justus put Coosa ahead 3-2.
The Panthers responded in a big way in the bottom of the inning, tagging Coosa starting pitcher Caiden Lipscomb for six runs with RBI hits from Austin Finch, Brian Kelley and Riley Austin.
Spring Garden starter Austin Slayton finished with 12 strikeouts and three walks over six and two-third innings.
Four runs from the Panthers in the bottom of the sixth finalized the score at 12-6.
Lipscomb went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk for the Conquerors, while Justus went 2-for-4.
Game two did not start as quietly, as a two-RBI double from centerfielder Luke Ivey put the Panthers ahead 2-0 in the top of the first inning.
Coosa responded in the bottom of the inning. Respective RBI groundouts from Justus and Noah Bruce and a two-run double from Lipscomb put the Conquerors on top 4-2.
But Spring Garden returned the favor with four runs in the top of the second to take back the lead 6-4.
Panther starter Colby Slayton tossed four innings of five-run, eight-strikeout and three-walk baseball. He also went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI.
One run in the third and an eight-run outburst in the fourth – including an inside-the-park home run from Ivey – gave Spring Garden a 15-4 lead.
The Conquerors managed a run on a Panther error in the bottom of the fifth but were unable to avoid the 10-run mercy rule.
“[Spring Garden has] a good team, and we played uptight,” said Coosa head coach Joey Millican. “They threw and hit the ball well and played good defense. They just got to us and
capitalized on the plays that we weren’t able to make.”