Saturday, April 20, 2013
Though the North Augusta High School varsity baseball team stumbled against Lexington, the team was able to rally to beat Greenbrier (Ga.).
The Jackets (9-10, 3-5 Region 5-AAAA) fell against Lexington, 8-1. The Wildcats have continued to be the class of the region, pushing their undefeated streak to eight. Ryan Lark pushed the Jackets' only run home, knocking in Zach Wilson in the fourth. The Jackets, who only trailed by one after the top half of the inning, gave up six runs in the bottom half to complete the final score.
"Against Lexington, we got some men on base - as a matter of fact, that's where we scored the one run," said Vic Radcliff, North Augusta head coach. "Jake Nelson was throwing fairly well, though he had a few problems with his location. Lexington, throughout their lineup, has a bunch of good hitters. We made a few mental mistakes defensively and they took advantage of them. I try to tell the kids when you play good programs, you can't give them extra at-bats, because they come back to hurt you."
Radcliff noted that his team battled throughout the game, but the deficit was just too large to overcome.
With the game against Greenbrier, Radcliff knew that his team needed to rally and get a win to turn the momentum back in their favor. After jumping out to an 8-0 lead after two-and-a-half innings, the Wolfpack cut the Jackets' lead to 8-4 after three. Greenbrier chipped away at the lead again the next inning to cut the lead to one before taking a 9-8 lead in the fifth. The Jackets then took the lead right back in the sixth and held on to a 10-9 win.
Cody Turner hit a first-inning grand slam to kick-start a 2-for-2 day with those four RBIs and three runs. Zach Jarvis went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run, and Wilson also went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Lark and Chaz Davey both had RBIs and Russell Scaggs also had two runs.
"Before the game, I got them down by myself and I said, 'Guys, this game is so much mental. It's mental preparation, I realized this as a player, that 80 percent is between your ears and the other 20 percent is what you do to prepare,'" Radcliff told them. "' ... During the course of this game, there are going to be situations where there will be a ground ball that needs to be played. Are we going to make the play or make an error on it?'"
He also told his team there would be a time where there were crucial at-bats, and he challenged them to get hits instead of strikeouts or little dribblers. It also came down to execution, and Radcliff wanted his team to know they would need to execute to win.His team responded right out of the gate, opening up with hits by Ryan Hammond and Corbin Lutier to open the game. Scaggs drew a walk, which set the stage for Turner's big blast.
"Coach Wilkins (of Greenbrier) and I have a good relationship, and we converse back and forth about our players," Radcliff said. "We talked before the game and he shared with me that they really appreciate playing North Augusta simply because we give them a good challenge to what they will face as they go through their season and playoffs. That goes both ways, as they have a great program as well."
As Davey got fatigued, the Jackets made a pitching change to bring in Trib Reece. Radcliff noted that Reece threw strikes and "showed mental toughness" to stop the Wolfpack after they had scored nine unanswered runs.
Coming up, the Jackets will play Aiken in a game that was to have happened on Tuesday. On Friday, the Jackets will have their final home game of the year against Dutch Fork. Currently, North Augusta is comfortably in the playoffs despite the up and down year, but with wins and some breaks, the team could climb as high as No. 2 in the region behind Lexington.
"If we take care of our business, I would say we would be a solid third or maybe even second," Radcliff said.