A year after winning the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association championship in just its fourth year as a program, it seemed the Georgia Highlands College baseball team was on an upward trajectory.
While that may still be true, the Chargers took a step back this year, failing to make the conference tournament after a four-game sweep last week at the hands of East Georgia State, the top team in the GCAA.
Georgia Highlands was competitive in three of the four games, including Wednesday's 4-3 road loss. The Chargers took a 1-0 lead in the fifth, went down 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh, tied the game in the top of the eighth, before allowing a lone run in the bottom of the eighth. That one run would prove to be the difference, despite two-hit days from Willis Kemp, Parker Orr and Joey Demasi and a home run by Blake Brady.
The second game was close through the first four innings, but East Georgia State hung six on the Chargers in the top of the fifth. GHC never really recovered to get back in the game and lost 15-7.
Kemp, Brady, Nick Piccapietra and Austin Foster all had multi-hit games. Piccapietra and Demasi also homered.
After an offensive explosion in Game 2 of the four-game set, Game 3 Saturday was a pitcher's duel. Drew Wilson pitched seven scoreless innings, but then allowed two runs in the bottom of the eighth, which was in extra innings. GHC got one back in the bottom of the eighth, but it would not be enough in the 2-1 loss.
The second game of the doubleheader that day went back to the hitters, with East Georgia State prevailing by a score of 13-10. GHC scored five runs in the bottom of the first to take a 5-1 lead, but East Georgia State eventually took a 12-9 lead with a four-run fourth and six-run fifth. The two teams traded runs in the seventh, but the damage was already done.
Piccapietra, Bryson Horne and Skyler McPhee each had two hits, while Foster and Zachary Miller each had three.
With the sweep, the Chargers fall to 28-22 on the year and 11-17 in conference play, which is fifth out of seven teams in the GCAA. That puts GHC three games back of fourth-place ABAC with just two games to go in the season.
Those two games will come against South Georgia State Tuesday and Andrew College Saturday.