Latta was tight Monday night, throwing the ball around on defense and falling to Lewisville in the opening game of the 1A baseball state championship series. The Lions returned the favor Wednesday with an equally tense performance in a 6-2 loss that forces a decisive third game in the series on Friday at Cheraw High School.
“Monday night they put pressure on us, we had trouble making some plays,” said Latta coach Don Cribb, “and they had a little bit of trouble making some plays (tonight) and we got some hits when we needed them.”
The combined populations of the towns of Richburg and Latta is just over 1,500 people, and there might have been that many crowded around the fences of Lewisville’s ballpark Wednesday evening. What they saw was an uncharacteristically poor defensive performance by the host Lions, who committed five errors and never really got going offensively.
“This game reminded me of Monday’s game, you just flip-flop the teams,” said Lewisville coach Billy Keels, whose team had just 28 errors in the first 29 games of the season.
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Latta sent nine to the plate in the first inning, a 3-0 lead the result. Eric McGirt led off with a triple to the fence, then scored on Jackson Williams’ single. After Williams, the next three Viking batters got aboard, Austin Miller’s single making it 3-0. Keels said the Vikings’ early offensive assault against Sisk, the College of Charleston signee, was a shock.
“We had our stud going, we kicked it around a little bit and then we freaked out a little bit,” said Keels. “When they saw that they scored three against Evan, I think they got a little starry-eyed and a little concerned.”
Lewisville got one back in the bottom of the second, with Cody Montgomery singling to lead off and scoring on Drew Colvin’s base knock.
But two errors by the hosts in the top of the third helped Latta cushion its lead to 5-1. A throwing error enabled Caleb Mishue to reach first and he and Miller scored shortly thereafter when Lewisville threw away an out at first with the bags full.
Lewisville committed its third and fourth throwing errors over the fourth and fifth frames, and the Lions were fortunate to escape those situations unscathed. Laboring mightily with the sticks, Lewisville scratched another run across in the bottom of the fourth. Colvin got to first on a fielder’s choice and scored from second on Austin Bradshaw’s single for a 5-2 deficit.
Latta got an ultimately unnecessary insurance run in the fifth to cap off a good night for the visiting bunch, as the Lions’ rally never materialized. Lewisville went to three games when it won the 2010 state title, and the Lions will have to regroup just like Keels’ team from five years ago did.
“They’re acting like it’s the end of the world and I guess they should,” said Keels. “But there’s only two 1A teams out of 50 that are still playing baseball. We’re gonna get to practice tomorrow and then see what happens Friday night.”
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T
Latta 6, Lewisville 2
WP- McLeod Carmichael. LP- Evan Sisk.
Leading hitters: Latta- Jackson Williams 2-3, 2 RBI, 2B Austin Miller 2-3, HBP; McLeod Carmichael 2-3, RBI. Lewisville- Evan Sisk 1-3; Drew Colvin 1-2, RBI; Austin Bradshaw 1-3, RBI.
Records: Latta 22-7; Lewisville 21-9.