May 4, 2013 11:03:07 PM
Scott Walters - firstname.lastname@example.org
CALEDONIA -- Caledonia High School baseball coach John Wilson made an ominous prediction that unfortunately came true.
Wilson warned his team it had to take better care of the little details and had to improve dramatically on defense to have a chance in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A North State playoffs.
Instead, Caledonia made five errors at home Saturday afternoon and bowed out to Lewisburg with a 12-1 loss. The victory, coupled with a 10-0 win Thursday, helped Lewisburg sweep the best-of-three series.
"In our losses, we averaged about 12 strikeouts per game and about five errors per game," Wilson said."We knew we would have to be better in those areas to win in the playoffs. Some of the things you get away with in the regular season. You can't get away with when the competition gets better. When you make mistakes, it makes for some long games."
Caledonia breezed to 10-0 and 18-1 victories against Indianola Gentry in the play-in round of the playoffs. The roles were quickly reversed this week, as Lewisburg needed only four and a half innings to take game one.
On Saturday, the Confederates hung tough. Caledonia trailed 3-1 before Lewisburg struck for three back-breaking runs with two outs in the sixth inning. The floodgates opened an inning later as the Patriots sent 11 to the plate and scored six times.
Junior shortstop Hunter Wilson's two-run double was the big blow in the seventh. Junior second baseman Lowell Haney had a two-run single in the sixth. Wilson finished with two hits and three RBIs. Haney also had two RBIs.
For Lewisburg, the mission has been simple since last season. The Patriots have won 20 or more games in each of the past six seasons and still fell the sting of losing last season's Class 4A state championship to Purvis.
"The kids feel like they have done a great job of building some tradition around here," Lewisburg coach Rusty Cagle said. "There is nothing that hurts more than losing the state championship game by a single run. That has really been the motivation the entire season. The team has been determined to do that one extra thing to get better each day."
The hard work has paid off as Lewisburg (24-6) established itself as one of the favorites in Class 4A by going 10-0 in Region 2. The squad's lone losses have been to Madison Central, Olive Branch, and DeSoto Central (in succession in March), Hoover (Ala.), Bartlett (Tenn.), and Southaven.
"Lewisburg did a great job this year of separating themselves," Wilson said. "They have an excellent team in every facet of the game. You can tell they play with a lot of confidence. When you play an opponent like that, you can't give them extra outs and you have to take advantage of your opportunities."
Caledonia had limited opportunities in the series. Still, an RBI single by Jonathan Comer in the bottom of the third helped the Confederates tie the game at one.
Caledonia junior pitcher Caleb Brown helped keep his squad in the game until being lifted with two outs in the sixth.
Offensively, Caledonia couldn't answer. The Confederates had four hits after collecting having one in the opener. The Confederates also committed four errors in game one.
"We try to play up tempo and force the issue," Cagle said. "With our speed, we can make things difficult on the basepaths. The main thing is balancing playing smart and playing aggressively. I think we have done a real good job of that."
Jonathan Lindsey struck out eight and worked five innings to earn the victory.
Meanwhile, Caledonia looks to build on a breakthrough 24-win season. The Confederates return a solid nucleus but lose eight seniors.
"We had some stretches where we played really well," Wilson said. "We have to learn how to do that more often and become more consistent. It is another step in the process."
n Yazoo City 7, New Hope 6, eight innings: At Yazoo City, the Trojans dropped game one of their MHSAA Class 5A North State playoff series.
Landon Boyd started and pitched into the sixth inning for New Hope. Taylor Stafford relieved him and finished the sixth and pitched into the seventh. Will Golsan pitched the seventh and eighth and took the loss.
New Hope outhit Yazoo City 11-5 but walked 12.
Golsan had a single and a double, Boyd had a single, Stafford had a double, Rooke Coleman had a single, Payton Lane had a single, and Austin Oswalt and Parker Earhart had two singles.
The teams will try to play game two at 3 p.m. today in Columbus.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter