First Presbyterian Christian Academy’s baseball team notched its second consecutive win Thursday with a 14-4 victory over Long County’s Faith Baptist Christian Academy in the bottom of the sixth inning. The game took place at the Highlanders’ current home field, Joseph Miller Park.
The Crusaders took a two-run lead in the top of the first inning on Highlander errors.
During FPCA’s at-bat, two singles, one RBI by Jake Lee, three RBIs from Kyle Hill and a run from base running gave the Highlanders a 5-2 lead. In the top of the second, the Crusaders loaded the bases and Cameron Riley, the Highlanders starting pitcher for the game, walked the next batter for a Crusader run.
In the bottom of the inning, Rob Abrams got a base hit, Phillip Swindell made a solid hit toward the Crusaders’ short stop and Lee scored both runners with a double, two RBIs. Matt Lormis scored in Lee with a double, one RBI, to center field. Lormis stole third base and crossed home plate on a wild pitch. Dalton Smiley walked to first and, a few seconds later, stole second. James Phillips was tossed out at first, but this allowed Smiley to get to third base. Riley scored Smiley off an RBI, and the Highlanders closed the inning with a 10-3 lead.
In the third inning, the Highlanders’ defense quickly got three outs against the Crusaders, and the FPCA boys took their at-bats to add three more runs. Abrams had a base hit and stole second. Swindell hit a double. Lee scored in Abrams, and Swindell crossed the plate on a wild throw. Lee was in scoring position at third and scored off an RBI by Ricky Gilliard.
Riley pitched four innings, walking only one batter and earning eight strikeouts on 77 pitches.
Gilliard came in as the relief pitcher in the top of the fifth inning. The Crusaders avoided the 10-run mercy rule in the fifth by adding a run to trail by nine (13-4).
Gilliard finished the game, tossing 29 throws, earning two strikeouts and walking only one.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Crusaders’ defense kept FPCA from scoring. They took their at-bat to start the sixth inning, hoping to close the gap, but Gilliard struck out two and tossed out another at first.
The Highlanders got runners on base and scored the one run they needed to call the game and claim their victory.
First-year Highlander baseball coach Bruce Green said it was good to get a victory, but added he plans to bring the focus of practice back to hitting and offense during the week of spring break.
“We lost a few games scoring 7, 10, 11 runs — quality runs, not given runs,” he said. “Today, the other team had a lot of trouble in the field and they gave us those runs. Three weeks ago, our hitting was far better. We’ve been focusing on defense and we are dropping some things … so we are going to have to go back to work, offensively. We are not hitting the ball the way we can hit.”
The Highlanders will travel to Faith Baptist on April 10, right after the break. That also signals the second half of the season, when region competition heats up ahead of the playoffs.
“Everybody is going to be within one game of each other and whoever has a better second half is going to win the region,” he said. “If we don’t win it, it’s ours to lose.”
The FPCA boys are 3-5-1 overall and 1-2-1 in Region 2-AA of the Georgia Independent School Association.