Meridian Star


April 26, 2014

Late rally lifts Knights past Taylorsville, 2-1

COLLINSVILLE —  Sometimes, you go to the well once too often. Other times, you keep dropping the bucket until it hits water.

Boatner Ball wasn’t working, but West Lauderdale High School head baseball coach Jerry Boatner didn’t let it faze him. Tied 1-1 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Boatner had Luke Miller attempt to steal home Friday night against Taylorsville High School.

And Tartars pitcher Joseph Gateley failed to get set or step off the mound, resulting in a balk — and a run scored for West Lauderdale. It would prove to be the winning run as the Knights came out on top, 2-1.

“I’m still feeling it,” Boatner said of his team scoring the winning run. “It was an awesome feeling. You practice that, and you hope you have an opportunity to do it. It isn’t going to work very often.”

The run was especially sweet for the Knights, since one play earlier, Will Stokes was ruled out on a controversial call at home when the Knights attempted a squeeze play. The call left Boatner fuming.

“I was jumping up and down because I knew he was safe,” Boatner said. “Or, I thought he was, and didn’t think it was close.”

West had tried a couple of squeeze plays before Miller scored, with no success. After hitting a double, Fred Franklin was caught in a rundown between third and home. Franklin had attempted to score on a single by Daniel Hill but changed his mind, slipping in the process and getting trapped. The Knights’ aggression seemed in vain prior to Miller scoring.

The run secured the win for starter Ryan Lane, who lasted six innings and gave up one unearned run on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Lane said afterward it was nice seeing his teammate Miller score on the steal at home, especially since it was Senior Night for West.

“I was very excited, happy — several emotions,” Lane said.

Lane also said he was pleased with his performance despite not having his best stuff.

“I think I did pretty well,” Lane said. “I was locating the ball really well. I don’t think I had all of the speed I usually have, but I was able to throw all four of my pitches and located them. I got a little flustered (with men on base), but I just kept my mind straight and did what I do best, which is throw strikes.”

Boatner said Lane did a great job keeping his team in a tight game.

“He’s a great pitcher,” Boatner said. “He throws strikes and has a great changeup and curveball. We have great pitching, and I’m hoping our hitting can catch up, although we faced some great pitching (Thursday and Friday night).

West Lauderdale finished with just four hits, with Hill tallying two of them. Hill scored West’s first run when Lane drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fourth.

Taylorsville matched the run with one of their own in the top of the fifth on an RBI single by Jarvis Griffith that sent in Brody Bray. Bray earlier reached second on a throwing error.

Gateley was charged with the loss in two innings of relief. Jordan Hayes started for Taylorsville, going four innings and giving up one run on one hit. He also had two strikeouts and three walks.

Colton McKeithen got the save for West in a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out two of the three batters he faced.

For Taylorsville, Matthew Craft went 2-for-3 at the plate.

The Knights were fresh off their first loss of the season Friday after dropping a 4-2 contest to New Hope High School Thursday in Scooba. Boatner said not having to worry about being undefeated was a monkey off his team’s back heading into the playoffs.

“I don’t ever want to lose, but I’d rather lose (Thursday or Friday night) than in the playoffs,” Boatner said. “But it’s a hurting feeling, especially when you reach 24 or 25 wins.”

Although Taylorsville wasn’t a playoff opponent, Lane said he and the other seniors take every game they play as if it were the postseason.

“All seven of us (seniors), we’re all best friends, and we don’t say, ‘This game is more important than this game,’” Lane said. “We play every single game 100 percent, and we don’t look back. We give it all we have.”

West (25-1) had a bye in the first round of the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs this week and will begin postseason play Thursday.

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