AUGUSTA - Emotions ran high Wednesday afternoon in Westside’s doubleheader with Jeff Davis.
After the Patriots mounted a late comeback to win the first game, 7-6, the Yellow Jackets scored on an error in the final inning to claim the second contest of their Class AA second-round series.
The decisive Game 3 will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday at Westside. The Patriots (19-10) won the coin flip and will be the home team.
Westside coach Gerald Barnes, who is believed to have notched his 802nd win in the first game of the doubleheader, huddled up his team after an emotional 4-3 defeat in the nightcap. Senior pitcher/third baseman David Hagelston said his coach told them to focus on the next game.
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“He just said in a three-game series, it doesn’t matter which two you win. You just have to win two,” Hagelston said. “I feel like we still have the advantage because we’re at home.”
Hagelston notched the Game One win thanks to his arm and his bat. Jeff Davis broke open a tie game with a Curt Nelms two-run single in the fourth. The Jackets pushed the lead to 6-1 in the sixth, with two Westside errors leading to three unearned runs.
Westside responded in a big way. Brandon Brown led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. With one out, Tim Gray and Jalen Lampkin walked. Aaron Gonzalez followed with a two-run single. Mason Dodd followed with an RBI single. Jackson Fleming added another RBI single, pulling the Patriots within a run.
One batter later, Hagelston launched a double off the top of the left-field fence, plating Dodd and Fleming. Westside led 7-6, holding on for the win.
“I don’t know if we stole that one or not, but had we lost it we would’ve said we had thrown it away,” Barnes said. “We didn’t quit. We haven’t quit all year.”
In the second game, pinch runner Ryan Keeter scored from second on an infield single to give Westside a 3-2 lead in the sixth. Then, Fleming stroked a single up the middle. Gray circled around third and darted for home with catcher William Browning down the line blocking the plate. Gray collided into Browning, jarring the ball free. The umpire called Gray out on “malicious contact,” ejecting the second baseman – an automatic suspension for today’s game.
“To me, he was trying to avoid the tag,” Barnes said. “The catcher had the plate blocked. What was he going to do? Slide into him?”
In the bottom of the sixth, Jeff Davis’ Brandon Schroeder tied the game with an RBI single. The following inning, Jace Ryles led off with a walk. Nelms dropped down a sacrifice bunt to pitcher Jonathan Jahn, who struck out 13 batters. Jahn misfired on the throw to first, allowing Ryles to score the game-winner.