Lovett captures Class AA crown
When it gets to this stage of the season, it doesn't matter how the runs are scored.
Lovett overcame a one-run deficit in Game 3 of the best-of-three Class AA state championship series against Wesleyan, scoring on a wild pitch in the sixth inning, then scoring the go-ahead run on a throwing error in the seventh inning.
The Lions then got a double-play to end the game. The 5-4 victory helped Lovett capture the state baseball championship Monday night, its first since 2013.
The Lions took Game 1 of the series, 4-2, on Saturday before they got routed, 12-2, in Game 2 on Monday. But Lovett (25-12) took advantage of Wesleyan miscues in the nightcap to steal the victory and the series.
“What an incredible series and incredible wave of emotions,” Lovett head coach Lance Oubs told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “From winning Saturday and having to come and play (Monday), losing the way we did and being at a real low-point after that game. I give credit to my group.
"They’re resilient… I would have been proud of them guys no matter what the outcome was. They came out and they played seven innings, one pitch at a time until the game ended. The ball bounced our way today. That’s all I can say. (Wesleyan’s) a great team. Three quality pitchers, hit the ball 1-9, look at all the homers they put on the board. We just found a way.”
The Lions, who finished as the third seed from Region 6-AA, kept Wesleyan (28-11) from repeating as Class AA state champions.
After Alex Thompson ripped three homers in the 12-2 victory, Wesleyan capitalized on the momentum to start the third and deciding game, going ahead 1-0 on a squeeze bunt from Ryan Weed which scored Jake McCleskey.
But Lovett rallied to take the lead at 3-1, scoring a run on an error, then taking advantage of a bases-loaded walk and a balk.
Thompson smashed his fourth homer of the day to lead off the fourth. Later Colin Hall and McCleskey ripped back-to-back shots to give Wesleyan a 4-3 lead.
It stayed that way until Lovett tied the game in the sixth, then took the lead for good in the seventh.
Ben O'Meara earned the victory in relief of starter Sam Prichard, then Freddy Achecar earned the save by working a scoreless seventh.
In both the sixth and seventh innings, Wesleyan had its chances. They loaded the bases in the sixth but left the runners stranded when O'Meara escaped the jam, then Cole Mannion was left stranded at third when Achecar got a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
“Great series between two great teams and two great programs,” Wesleyan head coach Brian Krehmeyer told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “I’ve got all the respect in the world, my team has all the respect in the world, for Lovett. The job their coaching staff does and how well their players play the game. It was an honor to share the field with them today. Of course I would have liked a different outcome. But they’re a worthy champion.”
Editor's Note: Information from the Gwinnett Daily Post's Paul Thomas and Game Changer were used in this story.