By Joshua J. Darling, Sports Information Director
LAGRANGE, Ga. – No. 8/9 LaGrange (21-7, 9-0 CCS) wouldn't wait until the late innings like the first two games of the series as they scored early and often to pound Belhaven (17-12, 9-3 CCS) into submission by an 11-1 score in an NCAA Division III baseball game on Friday, April 7.
The Panthers would shrug off a pair of walks, a wild pitch and two singles in the top of the first to keep the Blazers scoreless, and after managing just a single in their half of the inning, would not have another frame where a goose egg would go up.
After navigating back-to-back singles by BU in the second, it would take just one swing of the bat by junior catcher David Smigelski (Canton, Ga.), who belted his team-leading fourth homerun to leadoff the home half and put LaGrange up 1-0.
In the third senior third baseman Joe Ruth (Chiefland, Fla.) singled with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch and freshman outfielder Curt Bonner (Cartersville, Ga.) took advantage as he doubled that lead with a single up the middle. It would be a portent of things to come as three straight one out singles loaded the bases in the fourth. Senior outfielder Rhett Mixon (Loganville, Ga.) then walked to force home a run and sophomore outfielder Jorge Fragoso (East Point, Ga.) followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0
The Blazers would bounce back in the top of the fifth as Dawson Albin reached on a one-out error, moved to second on a Hunter Estes walk and scored when Nick Lucido poked a single to center. It wouldn't stay a 4-1 game long, however, as Bonner singled to leadoff the bottom of the frame, took second on a passed ball, Smigelski walked and a sac bunt moved both into scoring position.
And score they would as freshman first baseman Brody Hollingsworth (Powder Springs, Ga.) lofted a sac fly and junior second baseman Adam Dorn (Canton, Ga.) knocked a single to center to extend to a 6-1 margin. That would be just the tip of the iceberg, however, as the Panthers would not only sweep the series against their closest CCS competition, they'd end it early with five in the sixth.
That frame would see just three hits to get those five across the plate, with the big blows being a two-run single to center by Bonner and a bases loaded clearing double by junior outfielder Noah Preuer (Peachtree City, Ga.). Following a foul out and groundout to end the inning, LC allowed a leadoff double by Estes then set down the next two before working around a walk and wrapping up the 11-1 victory with a groundout.
Lucido would have the lone RBI for Belhaven while Estes, Chase Kitchens and Kyle McLaughlin each went 2-for-3 to account for the offense. Luke Miller would start and go four innings, getting tuned up for six runs and eight hits against just two strikeouts to take the loss and fall to 1-1.
Bonner would fill up the stat sheet for the Panthers as he went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a pair of runs while Preuer added three RBIs on a double. Dorn would go 2-for-4 with a run and RBI and freshman shortstop Jackson McElvy (Kennesaw, Ga.) finished 2-for-3 with a run and stolen base. Smigelski cranked a homerun as part of a 1-for-2 day that included two walks, an RBI and three runs scored. Mixon, Fragoso and Hollingsworth accounted for the other three RBIs and Ruth went 2-for-3 with two runs.
Senior pitcher Baley Coleman (Hiram, Ga.) threw the first 4.1 innings, striking out five and allowing one unearned run for the no-decision while junior pitcher Jack Richards (Fayetteville, Ga.) surrendered just one walk and three hits in 2.2 scoreless innings to pickup the win and move to 3-2.
LaGrange steps out of conference as they close their five-game homestand by hosting Oglethorpe on Tuesday, April 11. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. at Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium.