Young Cavs Fall up to title

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 10, 2005

Two innings. Six outs.

That was all that separated the Lakeland junior varsity team from first place in the Fall Ball baseball league tournament, which concluded Sunday at Indian River. After finishing with a subpar 5-6 during the regular season, the Cavaliers had roared to three tournament wins, and now clung to a 2-1 sixth-inning lead over the host Braves in the tournament final.

Justin Hike, who’d gone all the way in a 16-12 victory over Western Branch four days earlier, tried to keep his composure.

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&uot;I felt confident,&uot; he said. &uot;I had confidence in my defense.&uot;

It showed; he set the Braves down in order in the inning, and got the first two out in the seventh. But the next batter singled, and the winning run – and loss for the Cavs – was a home run away.

The young Lakelanders had started things off on Halloween against local rival Nansemond River, whom they’d defeated early in the season (though King’s Fork managed to defeat Lakeland). At Lakeland, Chris Smoke batted home Kevin Lowther for the difference-maker in a 6-5 victory.

The following Wednesday, the Cavaliers headed north to Western Branch and ended up in a shootout, pulling in a 16-12 victory.

&uot;It was runs every inning,&uot; said Jeremy Hagwood. &uot;We were ahead the entire time.&uot;

That wasn’t a problem in their semifinal game Saturday against Wilson at Olive Branch – the squad dominated in a 10-0 shutout.

Then came the title game. Though the teams hadn’t met in the season, River had lost just one game.

In the second inning, Lowther singled and stole second. He moved to third when Jarrett Hagwood grounded out, and scored on a passed ball. But the Braves tied things up in the fifth inning.

Not that Keith Anderton was worried.

&uot;I knew we were going to come back and score,&uot; said the Cavalier. &uot;We had the meat of the order coming up.&uot;

Seth Potter didn’t waste time, leading off the sixth with a single. He stole second, and went to third when Jeremy grounded out. Then Lowther knocked a long pop fly to the outfield, allowing Potter to put Lakeland ahead.

It was up to Hike, and five consecutive outs got the Cavaliers to within an out of the title. River got a man to first, and Hike focused on the next batter.

He hit a fly to the outfield – and it went straight to Jarrett, giving Lakeland the championship.

&uot;The guys did a tremendous job,&uot; said coach Bruce Hagwood. &uot;Hopefully, they’ll take it to a successful season in the spring. If they can stay together, I really expect great things from them.&uot;