Haughton’s circus act bests Airline’s

SLIP SLIDING: Airline’s Triston Hargrave gets by Haughton’s Caleb Brown to steal second base.

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

HAUGHTON – Both Airline coach Toby Todd and Haughton coach Glenn Maynor knew what to expect when their two teams met Thursday night in a big District 1-5A baseball game.

After all, this was a first-place team and a second-place team meeting in the opener of a two-game set and each team had its ace on the mound.

What they didn’t expect was what they got.

“That was wild,” Maynor said afterward.

“That was a circus, wasn’t it?” Todd said.

Minus the tent and the high-wire act, Haughton came away with a 14-8 win over the Vikings to give three teams at least one loss at the top of the district standings.

What the two coaches didn’t expect was this:

* Three instances of a team batting through the order in an inning;

* Both starting pitchers wouldn’t make it past the fourth inning;

* The winning pitcher would be sophomore who wasn’t even on the roster two weeks ago;

* Haughton would score 14 runs and yet its 3-4 hitters in the lineup would go 0-for-6;

* A never-ending series of bloop hits, two double steals that resulted in runs, six pitchers, plenty of hit batsmen and six errors.

But it lasted 2:42, so there was plenty of time for all that.

The last thing Maynor expected was that he would pull ace Austin Anderson after the third inning. But after seven runs turned a 5-0 Haughton lead into a 7-5 deficit, it was a move he had to make.

“He just didn’t have it,” Maynor said. “And when we are down 7-5 and they’ve knocked our guy off the mound, I thought, ‘This game is going to be hard to win.’”

In came Brogan Walker, whose name had to be hand-written on the pre-printed scorecard, to clean up the mess. All he did was pitch four innings, allowed only one unearned run and retire nine of the last 10 batters he faced.

“The beauty of it is that you never know how a game is going to turn out,” Maynor said. “The hitters kept battling and we got back in the game.”

Haughton got to Airline starter Tyler Furgeson in the fourth with six runs. But it wasn’t like covers were being knocked off the baseball. See if you are impressed with this offensive explosion by the Bucs: Hit batsman, error, groundout, walk, hit batsman, bloop single to right, walk, hit batsman, RBI groundout, bunt single and a groundout. That’s six runs with one ball making it to the outfield – and that one landed like it had a parachute attached.

“We gave each other runs back and forth,” Todd said. “I think I figured up that we gave up 16 free bases. They (the Bucs) are too good to be giving away runs.”

Joshua Sewell, Chan Lytle, Caleb Brown and Connor Blank each had two hits for Haughton. Airline got big hits from Clayton Brandon (two-run double) and Caleb Hemmings (RBI double) in the five-run second inning.

The Bucs are now 17-3 and 4-1 in the district. Airline is 9-8 and 3-1 in 1-5A. The two teams will play again Saturday at Airline at 1 p.m.

“Who knows,” Maynor said. “Neither one of us will have our ace, so it’ll probably be a low-scoring game.”

Photo by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL