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PREP BASEBALL: Team effort helps Alcovy register first region win in Jimmy Hughes era
Jimmy Hughes
Alcovy baseball coach Jimmy Hughes grabbed his first region win in Friday's doubleheader nightcap with Lakeside. -photo by Ben Ennis

COVINGTON, Ga. — The region win monkey is finally off their back. 

The Alcovy Tigers gave baseball coach Jimmy Hughes his first region win as head coach by taking down Lakeside 7-5 during the nightcap of Friday’s Region 3-AAAAAA doubleheader action.

The win bumped the Tigers up to 8-12 overall and 1-8 in their gauntlet of a region. But Alcovy actually narrowly missed taking a 2-games-to-1 series win, as it fell to Lakeside 12-9 in nine innings in the first game. 

Hughes said his squad “had chances in game one” and had to find ways to compensate for a short-handed bullpen. Four pitchers — Ryan Spikes, Elisah Graves, Raquis Holmes and Lamar Williams — toed the rubber in game one, combining to give up 11 hits juxtaposed to eight strikeouts. But in game two it was Caleb Griffeth who got the win, throwing five innings of six-hit ball while fanning eight batters. 

Griffeth had some rough moments as well, surrendering a pair of home runs. But after Lakeside put two runs on in the top half of the fourth, Alcovy pitching and defense shut the Panthers down the rest of the way as Williams and Owensby came on to close out the game’s final two innings. 

Although the first region win felt good, Hughes said he simply wants his squad to continue focusing on the process of improvement. 

“I think we’re seeing it in spurts,” Hughes said. “We’re still extremely young in a lot of spots. In what we do, a lot of people judge success on wins and losses, but we’re having to keep training our guys to focus on the process and the work we’re putting in. You can’t always control the result.” 

What Alcovy may have been lacking in pitching prowess, the Tigers’ bats tried to compensate. The 16 total runs were the most scored by an Alcovy squad in back-to-back region games since the 2016 season when the Tigers competed in Region 2-AAAAAA and the GHSA had just six classifications. 

In the game two win, Griffeth showed off not only his arm, but some timely power at the plate. He hit 1 for 3, but his one hit drove in a pair of runs. Some unsung heroes emerged for Alcovy as well. Hughes mentioned Jacob Golden who got things started in the second game’s first inning with a two-out, two-RBI single that put Alcovy up for good. 

“We had some guys step up that were not our normal contributors,” Hughes said. “Riley Thompson also had a RBI double. Lamar Williams was lights out out of the bullpen in the sixth. Chandler Hicks’ bat took a while to heat up, but he’s starting to figure out his swing a little bit. Caleb Griffith has pitched a pair of gems over the past two Fridays. We’ve challenged everyone to stay engaged because the light is going to shine on them at some point, and it did for a few of our guys (Friday night).” 

This was especially true with younger guys like Holmes, a sophomore who was a combined 3-for-6 at the plate with four RBIs. 

“Raquis Holmes is seeing the ball as well as anyone in the region at times,” Hughes said. “He’s only a sophomore, and is going to be a problem for opponents the next couple of years.” 

Alcovy won’t get much time off during spring break week, as it will host Grovetown Monday at 5 p.m. to start a three-game region series that will conclude with a Friday doubleheader on the road. That will come one day after hosting Luella in non-region action on Thursday at 4 p.m.