First Presbyterian Christian Academy coaches say the middle school baseball team was organized this year for the future of the Highlanders high school team.
Coaches Jay Osteen and Chris Eason said their priority was to start a feeder program to prepare middle school athletes for varsity play. But the players, who had little experience at the beginning of the season, found success, making the finals and finishing in second place in the league.
Finishing at 3-10, the Highlanders entered the playoffs as the underdogs. And the young Highlanders swept the preliminary rounds to make it into the championship. Defeating St. Andrews 17-6, the ’Landers went on to the second round to face the playoffs’ No. 1 seed, Savannah Christian. The Highlanders won the first two games in the best of three series (10-5 and 8-6) to knock Savannah Christian out.
The coaches said the ’Landers’ batting kept improving game by game.
Pitcher James Osteen, a seventh-grader, racked up an average of 10 strikeouts per game during the season, with sixth grader Cameron Eason and eighth grader Joshua Nunn backing him up on the mound. They also transition to other positions as needed. Veteran players Nunn, Weston Lormis and Philip McGowan provided leadership for the team.
Facing Savannah Country Day in the championship series, the ’Landers found themselves at a disadvantage. Although Savannah Country Day participated in the higher gold bracket during the regular season, the team was allowed to play in the silver bracket for the playoffs. Coming up against a team with a higher level experience and one they had not played in the season, halted the Landers. Losing in the first game Monday 10-5, the Landers regrouped on Tuesday and stayed competitive with Country Day throughout the game. The ’Landers lost 6-5 in the back-and-forth game.
Looking at next year, the middle school team will lose three players to the FPCA varsity squad: Nunn, Lormis and McGowan.
The only rising 8th grader on the team, Osteen, will be relied on to provide leadership to the young squad.
Eighth graders - McGowan, Nunn and Lormis
Seventh grader - Osteen
Sixth graders - Cameron Eason, Xavier Anderson, Krish Patel, Anthony Dulski, Austin Martin
Fifth grader - Ben Campbell