COVINGTON, Ga. After winning their first game against Praise Academy 12-2, Peachtree Academy dug deep to stop a semifinals if-game when they won the second contest of the playoff doubleheader 11-8 in eight innings on Friday.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Peachtree Academy coach Skip Argo. “This was a good game for us. It showed that the guys won’t quit and that they have a lot of heart. There were many times in the game that the momentum swing was severe. They fought back.”
The Panthers (19-3, 6-0) will host Westminster Christian Academy (8-4, 2-2) at Georgia State’s Newton Campus for the state championships at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday. The if-game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Although the Panthers maintained a small lead throughout the majority of the game, Praise (13-7, 6-0) found a way to tie the game, 8-8, in the sixth frame.
At the top of the sixth, Panthers’ Grayson Hopkins got the Panthers to an 8-6 score when he hit a single and made his way home with a Garrett Payton double.
Praise fired back at the bottom of the sixth when Lyric Harrell, who scored 3-out-of-8 of Praise’s runs, came to bat. Harrell set the momentum for Praise as he, Justin Pinher and Zach Deas loaded the bases. With two outs, Jackson Davenport was able to hit a double from Panthers’ pitcher Jordan Jett. The double resulted in a Harrell and Pinher run that tied the game.
Peachtree loaded bases in the seventh stretch but neither the Panthers or Praise were able to break the tie, which sent them into an extra inning.
The Panthers were able to secure the game when Walker and Garrett Payton both found their way onto bases. Dakota Boeckman plated both Paytons with an exciting single for a 10-8 score.
Boeckman was also able to steal second and run home with a Brice Kiser single. Praise was not able to respond at the bottom of the eighth inning.
The opening frame was major for the Panthers as they loaded bases with their first three batters: Kiser, Conner Jett and Hopkins. Walker Payton plated Kiser and Jett. Hopkins then made it to home plate from third base for a 3-0 score when Praise’s catcher lost control of the ball.
Praise also had a hard time holding onto the ball before Hopkins’ run. In a close call for Kiser, the Praise shortstop dropped the ball as Kiser advanced to third.
Payton also scored a run after the loaded bases.
Praise responded at the bottom of the first with runs from Russell Moss and Harrell.
Peachtree switched their pitcher from starter Bryce Seals to Conner Jett after Praise got three runs at the bottom of the third inning. Andrew Reamer, Deas and Davenport put Praise at 6-5 behind the Panthers. This came before Garrett Payton and Charlie Byers both got runs at the top of the third. Both players hit a triple in the third.
“(Seals) was elevating the ball up just a little bit,” said Argo. “He was not able to locate his curveball in the corner. (Praise) has a very good hitting baseball team.”
The Panthers had a missed opportunity for a run in the first inning when Byers remained stuck at third base with two outs, the team couldn’t plate him before reaching three outs.
Conner Jett and Harrell both got runs in the fourth inning for their teams.