By Will Johnson
LOVELADY / DOUGLASS – The Lovelady Lions took their first step on what they hope is a long journey through the postseason as they defeated the Douglass Indians by a 2-0 margin in their best-of-three Bi-district playoff series.
Chad Fulgham got the nod for the Lions as the game one starter and he did not disappoint the Lovelady fans as he went the distance and picked up the win with a shutout. Fulgham gave up five hits struck out 10, walked three and only allowed one Douglass baserunner to reach third base.
Logan Lee took the loss for Douglass. He gave up eight runs on 12 hits, with eight Ks and six walks.
Fulgham opened the game by retiring the first three hitters he faced and then led off the bottom of the first with a single. Blake Johnson moved him to second and then Hunter Murray drove in Fulgham with a line shot to center.
Lee settled down after that and retired the next three batters he faced, but after the first inning the Lions led 1-0.
In the second, Fulgham retired the first two batters he faced and then yielded a single to Trevor Roquemore. He was stranded at first after Fulgham struck out Augustin Barrera to end the Indians’ half of the second.
The Indians managed to avoid any damage in the second, but after coaxed Avery Arnold to hit into a double play to close out the third for Douglass, Lovelady struck for three runs.
Hunter Murray reached on an error and came around to score on Lee Holsey’s double. Holsey crossed the dish on Brett Huester’s single to center and Huester scored on Jay Robinson’s single to left which made the score 4-0 in favor of Lovelady.
As the game moved into the fourth inning, Fulgham continued to dominate as he struck out the first two batters he faced. After Roquemore singled to center, he closed out the inning with his second K of Barrera.
The Lions added two more runs to their total in the fourth inning as Fulgham and Holsey crossed the plate to push Lovelady’s lead to 6-0.
After a 1-2-3 fifth, Lovelady closed out the scoring with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. Robinson led off with a single, promptly stole second base and moved to third on Fulgham’s third hit of the game. Robinson and Fulgham both came around to score when Blake Johnson blasted a double down the line and to bring the final score to 8-0.
Neither team could do anything offensively in the sixth or seventh inning as the Lions took control of the series with the game one win.
The series moved to Douglass for game two as the Lions sent Hunter Murray to the mound while the Indians started Avery Arnold.
Lovelady drew first blood once again as lead-off batter Jay Robinson walked, stole second and crossed the dish on Blake Johnson’s double.
Murray took the mound with a 1-0 lead and powered through the Indians lineup as he retired the first six batters he faced on four Ks and two infield groundouts.
Avery also held the Lions scoreless in the next three innings.
Douglass scored their first run of the series in the fourth inning as Lee, Arnold and Wyatt Tucker crossed the plate to give Douglass a 3-1 lead after four innings of play.
The Indian lead was short lived, however, as Lovelady came roaring back to score seven runs in the top of the fifth. Arnold walked Robinson and Johnson to start the inning and Murray singled to left to load the bases.
Holsey followed with a sacrifice fly to center to score Robinson. Alex McKnight drew a walk to re-load the bases and was followed in the order by Huester who hit a grounder past short to drive in Johnson.
Slade Smith was up next and singled to right field to bring home Murray and McKnight. Huester, Smith and Taylor Womack all found their way home by the time Douglass recorded the innings third out, but by the then the damage had been done and Lovelady led 8-3.
Armed with a five run lead, Murray slammed the door on any hopes the Indians had of coming back as he retired nine of the next 10 batters he faced to end the game and send the Lions to the Area Championship.
Murray picked up the win with seven innings of work. He gave up three runs on five hits, struck out nine and walked four.
Arnold took the loss for the Indians as he gave up eight runs on nine hits with one strikeout and eight walks.
Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.