The Georgia Highlands baseball team struggled with the bats Saturday, but strong pitching and defense allowed the Chargers to split a doubleheader Saturday at LakePoint.
Georgia Highlands lost the first game by a score of 3-1 to St. Louis Community College, but bounced back to win Game 2 by a score of 3-0 over Lincoln Trail Community College. The split puts the Chargers at 7-5 this season, and they will play again today at LakePoint against St. Louis.
“Our pitching did a real nice job,” Georgia Highlands head coach Mike Marra said of Saturday’s doubleheader. “I tell the guys, ‘Our pitching and defense have to travel. It has to be consistent every time. I know the offense isn’t going to be a murderer’s row every game.’ The Cleveland State game [Wednesday] was probably the best we hit all year. But it happens. We’re going to have those games where you can’t quite square the center of the baseball up. We had trouble doing that [Saturday].”
The Chargers struggled to score and were no-hit through six innings in Game 1 against St. Louis, which won its region last season. St. Louis scored one run in the first inning off a solo home run to lead off the game. St. Louis then scored two in the sixth on a pair of singles and a double.
Georgia Highlands broke up the no-hitter in the seventh when Zach McCrum hit a solo home run. The Chargers would add another hit in the inning, but it would not be enough.
“That kid was their best arm,” Marra said of St. Louis starter Jordan Yakel, who threw a complete-game shutout. “We just could not square the baseball. That thing was moving. He had a good slider. It was tough for us to kind of center it. So he did a great job keeping us off-balance.”We just didn’t swing the bat real well in either game. Zach McCrum pitched the first game, and just pitched into some bad luck.”
The Chargers bounced back in Game 2 against Lincoln Trail, scoring three runs in the fifth inning to take the game.
Bryan Quillens threw five shutout innings, allowing three hits with six strikeouts. Will Griffin pitched the last two innings without allowing a hit to earn the save.
The Chargers batted around in the fifth inning to score its three runs, using three singles, two walks, a hit batsman and a sacrifice bunt to do the damage. Former Cass player Brandon Etheridge hit an RBI single in the inning to score the second run. Etheridge later came around to score to give the game an eventual final of 3-0.
“Lincoln Trail started a left-handed pitcher. In the first three innings, he was 88-90 [mph]. He started to go 85-87 by the time he came out,” Marra said of Game 2 of the doubleheader. “He had a real tight slider that really gave us some fits. So we saw two real good pitchers. We did enough in that second game.”
Etheridge finished the game 1-for-3 and continues to bat in the No. 2 spot in the order, while fellow former Colonel Bradley Hood pitched 2/3 of an inning against St. Louis, allowed one hit but no runs and recorded a strikeout. He has thrown two innings on the year in three appearances out of the bullpen. The freshman has allowed just one hit, no walks, no runs and has struck out three batters.
“I know it’s a small sample size, but Bradley Hood, he’ll come in and get a couple of hitters or an inning,” Marra said. “He’s come in and done a tremendous job for us. He came in today and got a big strikeout for us to hold the game in the first game.
“He’s been about 84, 86 [mph], but he’s really had a sharp breaking ball, which has been a good out pitch for him.”
Another former Colonel, Chris Morton, may see his first action of the season today.
“He’s back. He had the tonsillitis surgery. He’s got the clearance. He’s ready to go,” Marra said of Morton. “We’ll see if I can get him an inning tomorrow. If not, certainly Wednesday when we play the doubleheader with Southern Union. We’re glad to have him back.”
Overall, Marra is pleased with where his team sits with a 7-5 record against some competitive teams.
“We like a lot of the things we see. I think there are some things we have to get better at. But we’ve done a pretty good job,” Marra said of the season so far. “We’re very deep. We’re about just over 3.00 for a team ERA at the college level. We didn’t hit [Saturday] as well as we normally had. I think we had five or six hits the whole day. But as long as your pitching and defense do well, you have a chance to win.”