The Lakewood baseball team hosted the Hobbton Wildcats on Thursday night, celebrating senior night in the regular season finale. Staring down the barrel of defeat, Hobbton cashed in on a big seventh inning performance to triumph over the Leopards, 8-5.
Hobbton struck quickly in the top of the first inning, thanks in part to a major Leopard miscue. Justin Adkins the game off, drawing a walk. Daniel Villagomez laid down what was supposed to be a sac bunt, but an errant throw to first base allowed Adkins to circle the bases for a run, and Villagomez to take third. The next wildcat batter, Gage Herring, sent a single into center field that score Villagomez. A few batters later, Gregory Herring recorded a sac RBI, as a fly-out to center field allowed Gage Herring to score. Lakewood finally shut the threat down, but Hobbton led 3-0 early.
Lakewood answered in the bottom of the first, picking up two runs to chip into the lead. Zach Tanner got aboard and was then advanced to third after a base hit by Shawn Andrew. After Andrew took second on a steal, Chandler Honeycutt sent a base hit into the outfield that scored Tanner and Andrew to cut the Hobbton lead to 3-2.
The score stayed locked at 3-2 through the bottom fifth inning. In the bottom of the fifth, the Leopards took advantage of some Hobbton miscues to steal the lead. Pate Holland got aboard then took third after a series of passed balls. Alex Campos drew a walk then a base hit by Tanner scored Holland to tie the game. With two outs and runners on first and second, Devin Rosenberger hit a grounder up the middle that was misplayed, allowing Tanner to come in the for the go-ahead run. Hobbton got out of the jam, but the Wildcats now trailed 4-3.
That’s when things went terribly wrong for the Leopards. With one out and Hobbton still trailing 4-3 in the top of the seventh inning, Mafi Boyer drew a walk to get things started. Boyer then stole second and was then scored for the tying run on a hit by Adkins. With Adkins still on base, Villagomez reached to give the Wildcats two base-runners. That’s when Gage Herring belted a triple into deep left center, scoring both Adkins and Villagomez for two more runs. The Wildcats would tack on two more runs, a total of five in the inning, as Herring and Hunter Britt would each cross the plate to push Hobbtons lead to 8-4.
The Leopards kept fighting. Lakewood drew three straight walks to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh. Rosenberger hit an infield grounder, but the Hobbton defender stymied and was unable to make a play, allowing Chandler Ray to score from third and cut the Wildcat lead to 8-5. With the bases again loaded and still no outs, Hobbton went on to force three straight strikeouts to secure the win, 8-5.
Following the game, an emotional Lakewood head coach, Jay Faircloth, was proud of his seniors.
“My seniors have played great all year but that’s especially true for tonight,” he said. “They played offensively and defensively like seniors are supposed to play. I couldn’t have asked for a better game from them.”
Coach Faircloth also commended not only his teams efforts but also the Wildcats play, in what he called an amazing battle.
“I’ve been proud of this team all season but this is probably the most proud I’ve been of them,” he commented. “We fell behind early but we didn’t give up. We battled back and took the lead, but Hobbton just stepped up and got hits. They’re a great ball club, Coach Carroll has done a great job over there this year.”
Reach Daron Barefoot at firstname.lastname@example.org