Hosting the last baseball game of the regular season Thursday afternoon against the Memorial Day School Matadors, the First Presbyterian Christian Academy Highlanders honored its seniors with a ninth-inning, 6-5 win at home.
With a runner on third, Highlander Phillip Swindell dropped a Texas leaguer behind first to grab the win after two extra innings and three and a half hours of play.
Richard Lovelady earned the win after coming in to relieve senior starting pitcher Cameron Riley in the middle of the second inning. Lovelady threw 105 pitches.
“We’ve got him up to about 110-115 pitches, and we got him up to 105 today, and he was just incredible,” Highlander coach Bruce Green said. “Cameron did well and then he came in and played well at first.”
In the first inning, the Matadors scored two runs on errors.
In the ‘Landers’ at bat, Matt Lormis got a single and stole second. Jake Lee got hit with a pitch, and Lovelady tapped a bouncer to third, scoring Lormis. Ricky Gilliard got a RBI, scoring Lee knotting the game.
In the second inning, the Highlanders committed two errors that cost them three runs, closing the top half of the inning trailing 5-2. The Matadors then loaded the bases, but Lovelady came in and earned his first strike out.
In the bottom of the fourth, Richard Lovelady got a base hit and stole second. Carson Smith hit a bouncer allowing Lovelady’s courtesy runner James Phillips to advance to third base and later score.
In the bottom of the fifth, Michael Lovelady got on base and Gilliard blooped over the short stop. Rob Abrams got a hit and Richard Lovelady smacked a two-run hit, tying the game again.
The action went back and forth. Both teams got runners within scoring position, but none crossed the plate.
In the first two innings, FPCA left two runners on base. In the sixth inning FPCA loaded the bases but the Matadors kept them from scoring.
FPCA almost closed the game in the bottom of the eighth. But with bases loaded and two outs, the Matadors tossed out the batter at first.
“We’ve probably left bases loaded 10-12 times this year,” Green said. “We are having good at bats and battling and getting walks when they are there, but we have to put it all together. We are two hits away from scoring five or six more runs a game.”
That changed in the ninth inning. The Highlanders closed the Matadors’ at bat with a double play. FPCA got a runner on base and Swindell cleared the first baseman.
It was the second game in a row FPCA pulled out in extra innings.
The FPCA team honored its first senior class before the game. Friends and family gathered to support outgoing seniors Michael Lovelady, Hunter Gillon, Carson Smith and Cameron Riley.
“It’s my first year with this team, but overall I have never seen so much character on one roster,” Green said. “Quite honestly I think you would have to search 10 high schools and put them together to find the character we have on this team. Michael Lovelady has done a very good job of growing character the whole time he has been here. He came in midway through the season, but from day one, when I met these guys over the summer, and then from day one of practice this year, all three Hunter, Cameron and Carson ... I have no doubt they will be successful. If there have ever been leaders, those young men are true leaders.”
The guys aren’t quite through playing yet. Starting next week, FPCA starts the playoffs and are waiting to see who they’ll draw for round one.