Eight is the magic number for LHS Baseball Red Devils

By Brendan Koerner - The Walton Tribune

For the Loganville High School baseball program, tradition never graduates. The Red Devils won their eighth overall state championship Friday in thrilling fashion with a 4-3 comeback win against Cartersville in game three of the series. LHS had trailed 3-0 after the top of the first inning. It was the third consecutive state championship for the Diamond Devils. Photo credit: Brett Fowler | Brett Fowler Photography

Just when things looked bleak for Loganville baseball’s three-peat chances, designated hitter Angel Quezada stood calm in the eye of the hurricane.

After splitting Game 1 and 2 with the Hurricanes of Cartersville High School, the Red Devils had to return back to Coolray Field for a rainy Game 3 that had everything a fan could ask for, and then some.

Game 1 went exactly how one would expect a state championship contest to go.

To start the evening off, senior Tucker Segars got the Red Devils in the hit column with a two-out single to shallow right field. 

Courtesy runner Jack Philips stole second, and then Jordan Johnson hit an RBI single up back up the middle past the pitcher to give Loganville an early 1-0 lead.

Cartersville would answer in the bottom of the first inning, though. 

After Segars, who started the game on the mound, fanned the first two batters, the Hurricanes got on base with a double, bringing the runner home during the very next at-bat with an RBI single.

Loganville went three up, three down in the top of the second inning, and Cartersville took advantage of it.

The Hurricanes scored their second run early on a few consecutive base hits, but Segars set down the rest shortly after, stranding two Cartersville runners on base.

In the top of the third inning, Loganville responded with another run of its own to tie the game back up. Leadoff man Jaylen Jones hit a triple over the center fielder’s head and was shortly brought home by Segars on a two-out RBI single.

For the next three innings, both starting pitchers locked in. With the exception of the occasional walk or base hit, both teams didn’t allow another run until the seventh inning.

In the top of the seventh, Loganville began to play situational baseball, and they played it well.

Angel Quezada started the inning with a walk, and Ace Kenny bunted him over to put him in scoring position. Layne Ayers did the same, but he was able to beat out the throw for a single to put runners on the corners.

The go-ahead run came from Jones on a safety squeeze. He bunted Quezada in to put the Red Devils up 3-2.

The bottom of the seventh started similar to the top half of the inning. Cartersville’s first batter walked, and then stole second base. After the walk, Segars was pulled and JP Meyers came in relief.

Meyers did walk his first batter and give up the game-tying RBI, but he locked in for the last two outs of the inning, striking out both Hurricane batters.

The eighth and final inning was the most exciting. After Johnson singled with one out, he was able to move to third base on a throwing error by Cartersville’s pitcher on a pick-off attempt.

Another throwing error allowed Johnson to come across, and another suicide squeeze put Loganville up 5-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth.

Cartersville did all it could to try and cut into the two-run deficit, but with bases loaded, Meyers struckout the last batter to clinch Game 1 for Loganville.

Game 2 was not as friendly to the Red Devils. 

The Hurricanes came out swinging and put up four runs in the top of the first. 

Red Devils pitcher Jake Boland gave up an RBI single to make it 1-0, and then a hit batsman loaded the bases. Cartersville hit a bases-clearing triple to go up 4-0, but Loganville didn’t look like they were done just yet. 

The Red Devils responded with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. 

Segars drove in the team’s first run on an RBI double down the third base line, and then Nolan Keener followed suit with an RBI single which turned into an inside-the-park home run due to multiple Hurricane throwing errors.

Loganville only trailed 4-3 heading into the second inning, but those were the last runs they were able to score. Cartersville scored 10 unanswered runs to end Game 2 in five innings via run-rule.

Cartersville also started Game 3 off with a bang. A 3-run home run for the Hurricanes put them up three runs, and they held that lead until the bottom of the fifth inning.

Loganville tied the game up at 3-3 just like they did in Game 1 – small ball. A few walks, bunts and errors led to the Red Devils leveling things up.

With the exception of the three-run home run, Loganville didn’t give up any runs, and Jones, the Red Devils’ relief pitcher, kept that same energy into the seventh inning.

With the game still tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Segars led the team off with a single that turned into a double after another Cartersville throwing error.

After a few walks, the bases were loaded for Quezada, who had already gotten a hit on the day. With one out, Quezada was patient and blasted a line drive up the middle to secure the Red Devils’ third straight Class 5A title.

The magical run for the entire Loganville community continues.

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