The Greenwood Christian Academy baseball team and its followers must have felt like they were hit by a ton of bricks Saturday afternoon at the Class A Morristown Regional.
Shakamak, ranked third in Class A, needed just five innings to eliminate the Cougars 10-0 (via the run rule) and advance to the regional final, where it defeated Jac-Cen-Del, 10-2.
Greenwood Christian coach Doug Hagist was disappointed for his players, but certainly not in them.
Instead of dwelling on being hit with a load of bricks, Hagist was far more encouraged by a huge building block his ball club put into place in just its third year of existence.
The Cougars defeated University 14-7 in extra innings to capture the Bethesda Christian Sectional championship in their previous outing, easily the biggest win in the brief history of the program.
“We played in the regional, so I can’t be too unhappy,” said Hagist, managing a smile. “We’re still learning baseball. We now have three or four quality seniors to replace, but other than that, we’re in good shape.
“Getting past University was a big step for us.”
Shakamak scored four runs in the second inning, taking advantage of three walks, an error and a wild pitch.
Designated hitter Austin Rush drove in the Lakers’ first run with a sacrifice fly and second baseman Dylan Collins brought in another run with a single.
The Cougars turned a nifty double play to thwart another Shakamak scoring threat in the third inning, but the Lakers broke it wide open in the bottom of the fourth with six runs.
Shortstop Brett Yeryar drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, first baseman Christian Burris singled in a pair of runs, and pitcher Braden Scott helped his own cause with a two-run double to highlight the frame.
Greenwood Christian tried to stay alive with one out in the top of the fifth when left fielder Jacob Stephenson had a base hit, and shortstop turned relief pitcher Braden Murray drew a walk from Shakamak’s Scott.
But the Lakers’ left-hander rallied, striking out the next two batters swinging to end both the ballgame and the Cougars’ breakout season at 16-14.
Scott struck out seven batters and allowed just three hits to improve to 8-0. The Lakers totaled eight hits and committed no errors.
All in all, Shakamak played like a highly rated team, taking advantage of mistakes and avoiding miscues themselves.
Obviously, the Lakers are at a level the Cougars want to attain.
“We’ve got to become baseball-minded,” Hagist said. “We took a group of good athletes and made them baseball players. We focused a lot on hitting this year and we’re better at adjusting as hitters.
“This year we had eight or nine kids who could put the bat on the ball.”