By Will Johnson
LOVELADY – The Lovelady Lions used a six run fifth inning capped off by Brett Huester’s grand slam to power past the Centerville Tigers and tightened their grip on first place in District 21-2A.
The Lions trailed 2-1 as the game entered the bottom of the fifth inning with the top of the lineup coming to the plate. Chad Fulgham led-off and was called out on a swinging third strike from Centerville’s Hunter Free.
After the first out, Free began to struggle from the mound. He walked Blake Johnson on five pitches, Hunter Murray on four, Lee Holsey on five and Logan Lowery on six. The walk to Lowery pushed Johnson across the plate and tied the game at two.
A pitching change was made and Logan Cummings came in for Free. With Alex McKnight in the batter’s box, Cummings worked the count to 2-2 and then uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Murray to score from third and moved both Holsey and Lowery up a base.
Murray’s run gave Lovelady its first lead of the game and the Lions quickly built on it. After the WP, Cummings walked McKnight to re-load the bases for Huester.
Huester settled into the batter’s box and on the first pitch he saw from Cummings, he got all of it. The senior right fielder crushed a fast ball that sailed high and deep over the left field fence for a grand slam to put the Lions up 7-2.
“I was just trying to make contact,” Huester said of his grand slam. “I was just trying to get on base and drive somebody in. This is my first one. It was a fast ball down the middle and it was a great feeling.”
Asked if he knew it was gone when he hit it, Huester said he thought it had a chance.
“I didn’t really feel it when I hit it, but I could tell by the sound. I was pumped!” he said.
While the Lions wound up winning, thanks in large part to Huester’s five RBI afternoon, Lovelady struggled early on.
The Tigers jumped out to a 2-1 lead on a two run jack of their own in the top of the second. Fulgham started the game for the Lions and after a quick first inning, he struck out the lead-off hitter in the second.
Cummings was up next and lined a pitch into center field for a single. Garrett Wager followed Cummings to the plate and with the count 2-1, Wager grooved a Fulgham change-up over the fence to stake the Tigers to a 2-0 lead.
The Lions cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second inning. McKnight smacked a two-out double into the left center field gap and crossed the plate when Huester collected his first RBI of the game with a liner into center.
That was all the scoring until the Lions broke the game open with six in the fifth to put the game away and keep the Lions solidly in first place with three District 21-2A games remaining.
At the plate, Brett Huester had a monster day as he went 2-3 with a Grand Slam, five RBI, a run scored and a steal.
Centerville was led Garrett Wager who was 1-3 with a HR, two RBI and a run scored.
Hunter Murray picked up the win in relief as he went four innings, gave up one hit, struck out nine and walked three.
Chad Fulgham had a no-decision after he worked the first three innings, gave up two hits, two runs, struck out four and walked two.
Centerville’s Hunter Free took the loss after he pitched 4.1 innings. He gave up five hits, five runs, five walks and struck out three. Logan Cummings pitched the final 1.2 innings in relief and gave up two hits, two runs and walked two.
TOP PHOTO BY MIKE WHATLEY
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.