The Meridian Star
Ben's Ford Christian Academy (La.) starting pitcher Brian Hines had his curveball working Thursday afternoon, and Russell Christian Academy simply couldn't do much about it.
Hines baffled the Warriors for seven innings, striking out 11 batters, as the Eagles eliminated Russell Christian from the playoffs with a 4-2 win at Russell Christian Academy.
“He mixed his pitches up really well, and he had great control,” Russell Christian head coach Larry Lippert said of Hines. “He wasn't afraid to throw a curveball on 3-0 or 3-1, and we were a little anxious and got out in front of it. He just pitched a great ball game.”
Russell Christian's best opportunity came in the bottom of the sixth trailing 4-1, as Jacob Stephens led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch and stealing second base. However, costly base-running errors would end any threat of a rally for the Warriors. Stephens was caught in a rundown rounding third base following an infield single by Dylan Nolan. The next at bat, Kyle Russell lined out to Ben's Ford center fielder Cole Edwards who fired the ball back to first to double-off Nolan and end the inning.
“That was probably our inning,” Lippert said. “That could have been two men on and nobody out down three runs. We have been aggressive on the bases all year, it has helped us win a lot of games. I didn't want to get out of our game, but unfortunately sometimes aggressiveness gets you.”
Russell Christian would get an RBI single from Ben McGraw in the bottom of the seventh inning to make the the score 4-2. McGraw went 2-for-3 on the day to lead the Warriors at the plate.
Russell took the loss for the Warriors on the mound, giving up four runs through seven innings while striking out five batters.
After losing 7-6 to Ben's Ford Tuesday night, Russell Christian needed two wins on Thursday to advance to South State. Despite falling short of the team's goal of a first baseball state championship, Lippert said he is still proud of the way his team played this season.
“This year was our first district championship in school history,” Lippert said. “Sweeping Heidelberg, who has swept us the last three playoffs, in the first round was great for us. We had our sights set on the state this year, but overall we had a great season.”