It may not have been the most picturesque baseball game he's seen, but for Johnny Burch, Monday night's 9-5 win over Ridgeland was a thing of beauty.
The Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe coach, his team off to an 0-5 start, was just looking for some way to stop the bleeding, and after falling behind 2-0 to the Panthers the Warriors did their coach proud by scoring three runs in the third inning and four in the fourth.
"We needed it in a big way," Burch said with a shake of the head. "We've told our guys it's early and we've been in spots like this before, like two years ago we started off 0-4 and made the playoffs. This is something good for the kis and we hope to carry this over to region play next week. It's just kind of snowballed for us, and at times we haven't controlled the damage very well. Hopefully, like tonight, we're starting to overcome that."
LFO batted around in the third inning and got on the board on Coe Crawford's RBI single and a two-run single by Ryan Keefe. Tied at three in the fourth, the Warriors took the lead for good on Adam Wright's two-run single, a run-scoring wild pitch and an error.
The Panthers (4-2) fought back with two runs in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Tucker Hill and Chase Crawford and Crawford's ensuing straight steal of home. LFO starter Hayden Griffin was lifted after a two-out hit batter, with Tommy Hicks taking over. He quietened the Ridgeland bats, allowing one hit and two walks in 3 2/3 innings to earn the win.
"Tommy did very well tonight, and he's one we hope to be a key for us going forward," Burch said. "We think our pitching will be a strength. Hayden did a nice job for us tonight after coming in from basketball."
The Warriors added insurance runs in the fifth and seventh innings, highlighted by leadoff man Noah Blevins' one-man show. He was hit to lead off the seventh, stole second and third and scored on a wild pitch.
"Hey, anything to get some bags and score a run for us," said the senior Blevins, who reached base three times and scored twice. "This is what we needed, and now we hope to win the week and go 3-0."
Sam Eaves, Wright, Crawford and Chris Delmas had two hits each for LFO, with Chase Crawford having two of Ridgeland's eight hits.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...