Baseball team evens record ahead of region play

  • Lumpkin County’s Dalton Caldwell slides safely into home plate to score a run in Lumpkin’s 3-0 win over the Union County Panthers in their 2020 home opener on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
    Lumpkin County’s Dalton Caldwell slides safely into home plate to score a run in Lumpkin’s 3-0 win over the Union County Panthers in their 2020 home opener on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
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The Lumpkin varsity baseball team finally got the opportunity to play at its home field for the first time during the 2020 season and went 2-1 on the diamond last week to secure a .500 record going into Region 7-AAA play.
After losing their last two games, the Indians hoped to end their losing skid and get back in the win column when they hosted the Union County Panthers at the LCHS baseball field for their 2020 home opener on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
The Indians received a stellar performance from their starting pitcher and utilized some small ball in the game to earn a victory over the Panthers.
Hayden Cleland tossed a complete game shutout and the Indians’ lineup got enough production to defeat the Panthers 3-0.
The game started out as a pitcher’s duel between Cleland and Union County starter Austin Garrison. Both pitchers got through the first three innings without giving up a run.
However, Garrison was lifted in the bottom of the third inning and replaced with Union County relief pitcher Thomas Dryer.
The Indians would get to Dryer in the bottom of the fourth inning when the Panthers’ pitcher struggled with his control.
The inning started off with a patient at-bat from Caleb Childs, who drew a leadoff walk. The next Indian batter, Harris Taylor, was hit by a pitch to give Lumpkin runners at first and second with no outs. Tucker Kirk attempted a sacrifice bunt, but the Union County first baseman had no play to get Kirk, who sped out of the batter’s box, out on the play as no one was covering the base for the Panthers.
The defensive mental lapse by Union County allowed the Indians to load the bases for Brandon Alewine. Alewine delivered with a RBI bunt single, mirroring the exact same bunt that Kirk had reached safely on. Alewine’s bunt gave Lumpkin a 1-0 advantage and broke the scoreless tie between the two teams.
The Indians added another run to the scoreboard in the inning when Sean Swistek was able to coax a bases loaded walk to extend Lumpkin’s lead to 2-0.
Cleland continued to pitch strong for the Indians in the top of the fifth and recorded another scoreless inning from the bump.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Indians upped their advantage to 3-0 when Taylor belted a RBI double to the gap in right center field to plate Dalton Caldwell, who had been hit by a pitch earlier in the inning, from second base.
Cleland finished out the rest of the game with two more scoreless innings, setting down the final six batters he faced in order, and put an exclamation on his complete game shutout victory by striking out Union County’s Hunter Loyd to end the game.
The final result was a 3-0 win for Lumpkin.
The victory ended the Indians’ two-game losing skid and allowed the team to get back to .500 with an overall record of 4-4.
The Indians kept rolling when they met up with the White County Warriors on the road on Thursday, Feb. 27.
Kirk pitched four strong innings for the Indians to start the team’s game versus the Warriors. The southpaw did well to get ahead of the Warriors’ lineup, recording 10 first pitch strikes through his four innings of work. Kirk allowed one run in the bottom of the second, but would not yield another run while on the mound for Lumpkin. The lefty finished the game allowing one run in four innings while recording three strikeouts.
Caldwell continued to pitch well for the Indians this season and came into the game in relief of Kirk in the fifth inning. Caldwell allowed a run in his first inning on the mound, but refused to allow White County to plate anymore runs in the contest. Caldwell finished the game with three solid innings of work in which he allowed a run and struck out four.
After falling behind 1-0 in the bottom of the second, the Indians’ lineup came storming back in the top of the fourth with three runs to take a 3-1 advantage. Lumpkin extended its lead to 4-1 in the top of the fifth before the Warriors scored in the bottom half of the inning to cut the lead to 4-2. The Indians tacked one more run on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh to eventually win the game by a final score of 5-2.
The Indians had three different players record multiple hits during the win over White County. Chase Beamon, Nick Turner and Logan Choflet each recorded two hits apiece versus Warriors’ starting pitcher Connor McGuire, who pitched all seven innings for White County.
Caldwell knocked in two runs for the Indians while Taylor and Turner each had a RBI.
Lumpkin’s lineup finished the game with five runs off eight hits.
The win improved the Indians’ overall record to 5-4.
The Indians weren’t as fortunate when they stepped onto the diamond at LCHS on Friday, Feb. 28, to host the Lakeview Academy Lions.
The Lions’ lineup proved too powerful for the Indians in the contest, as Lakeview plated 19 runs in the game.
While the Lions scored at will, the Indians struggled to get consistent hitting from its lineup. Lumpkin was unable to score one run in the ballgame.
The end result was a lopsided 19-0 loss for the Indians, dropping their overall record to 5-5.
Lumpkin is 2-4 on the road so far this season, 2-0 at neutral sites and 1-1 at home.
At press time, the LCHS varsity baseball team was set to host Great Atlanta Christian (GAC) at the LCHS baseball field for the first game of a three-game series to open up the Indians’ Region 7-AAA schedule on Tuesday, March 3.  No official results were available at deadline.
The Indians will conclude the three-game series versus the Spartans when they travel to GAC for doubleheader action this Friday, March 6. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 5 p.m. with game two following at 7:15 p.m.