An emotional Lakewood head baseball coach Jay Faircloth began tearing up following Tuesday night’s close win on Senior Night against a talented Princeton team.
“I have never been more proud of my team than I am tonight,” he said.
The Lakewood Leopards had just snuck by the Princeton Bulldogs, barely beating them 1-0. It was an emotional game for many of the players, especially the seniors since it was Senior Night. The seniors, especially pitcher Zach Tanner, delivered, and delivered in big ways, and in return received heaps of praise from Faircloth.
The game was very defensive, as the final scoreboard indicated. Both teams played incredibly well defensively and it was tight throughout the whole game. Neither team was able to truly pull away even though both had opportunities to do so. It was a fitting game for a night dedicated to the seniors, and it easily lived up to the hype.
The Leopards finally got on the board with a run from third base by team captain Chandler Ray in the bottom of the fourth inning. Lakewood then maintained their lead and never allowed the Bulldogs to tie it up and never lost their grip on the lead. The Leopards defense held up and pulled out their second one-point victory of the season.
After Zach Tanner, who pitched a shutout, struck the batter out to end the game, he let out an exuberant yell as the rest of the Lakewood team gathered at midfield to celebrate the hard-fought victory. Tanner and the rest of the seniors would walk off the baseball diamond for the last time ever in their high school careers.
Faircloth had a tough time holding back tears when asked about the win.
“I don’t even know what to say. I’m trying to calm myself. Tonight was just different.” Faircloth said with a smile. “I told the seniors to go out here tonight, enjoy yourselves, suck it up, and do what you’ve got to do. I’m going to cry because I’m really proud of them.”
The Leopards have won back-to-back games for the first time since March and are now 8-6 overall.
Princeton Bulldogs head coach Justin Willoughby gave credit to Tanner for his stellar play.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to Zach Tanner. He threw the ball well. I told our guys a while ago that there are sometimes that you just have to be man enough to tip your hat. Got to give Zach credit.”
Princeton falls to 11-8 overall with the loss.