Highlands splits first GCAA series
by Jason Greenberg
Mar 09, 2014 | 637 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The series between the Georgia Highlands baseball team and the South Georgia Hawks had gone back and forth with each team trading games and trading leads.

The four games finally culminated with a Georgia Highlands victory when a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning tied the game for the Chargers, allowing them to win in extra innings Saturday at Woodland High and earn a 2-2 split in the program’s first conference series.

“It’s kind of fitting, the three other games have come down to the last at bat. Other than the first game, which they blew us out 9-2, this is exactly how these games have gone,” Chargers skipper Mike Marra said of the back-and-forth nature of the series. “[Friday] night, we were up 6-0 and they take the lead 7-6. Then we take the lead, and they come back and we end up winning.”

The Chargers lost Tuesday, won Friday and then split the pair of games Saturday.

In the first game Saturday, the two teams frequently traded runs until South Georgia put together a four-run rally in the sixth inning to win the game by a score of 8-6.

The teams combined for 20 hits in the game. Highlands fell behind in the first inning, but tied the game on two different occasions before falling behind again. The Chargers took a 6-4 lead briefly in the fifth inning before South Georgia would rally in the sixth.

Georgia Highlands designated hitter Andy Mocahbee hit a home run in the game, doubled in a run and walked twice to pace the Chargers’ offense. Catcher Trey Silmon doubled twice and left fielder Gavin Peters reached base in all four of his plate appearances.

In the second game, Highlands took the early lead when Silmon doubled to lead off the second inning. He would eventually come around to score to give the Chargers the lead.

South Georgia’s Blake Chaney would answer back in the top of the third when he lined a single up the middle to tie the game. Chaney had five hits and five RBIs in the doubleheader, including a home run and two doubles.

Following the trend of the series, Highlands responded the very next inning with a run of its own when Mocahbee homered for the second consecutive game.

South Georgia then answered back on the team’s next opportunity by scoring two runs in the fourth inning to retake the lead at 3-2. The Hawks would add to their advantage in the sixth with two more runs, putting Highlands in a 5-2 hole.

However, the Chargers would chip away in the sixth inning when left fielder Elijah White doubled down the right field line to score Chap Lindstrom. During the next at bat, an error by the South Georgia third baseman kept the Chargers alive. They would not score another run that inning, but the error extended the inning, allowing their top of the order to lead off the seventh inning.

In that inning, South Georgia retired the first two Highlands batters, leaving Mocahbee up at the plate with two outs, down two runs. Mocahbee walked, bringing the tying run to the plate in Lindstrom. Lindstrom took advantage of the opportunity with a line drive over the right field fence to tie the game and force extra innings.

“We have been waiting for Chap to do that and he’s been close a few times,” Marra said. “Andy had been doing a great job this series and he had a few home runs. We said, ‘If we can get anybody on, then Andy or Chap will at least have a shot.’”

After Mitchell Mannino shut down South Georgia in the top of the eighth, a walk and another error by the South Georgia third baseman allowed the winning run to score.

Mannino, the team’s closer, earned the win in the second game. He picked up eight outs between the two games Saturday and struck out four while allowing just one hit.

“We felt good with Mannino. we stayed with him longer than I wanted to, but Mitchell was unbelievable,” Marra said. “If we can get a lead late, then we have a real good shot with him.”

In the program’s first season, the Chargers are now 8-12 and 2-2 in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association.

Marra is pleased with the outcome and his young team.

“We end up with that split and I feel like, if we go .500 in conference play, that will be good enough to make the playoffs,” Marra said. “The first game was disappointing because we kept in it, fought back, and then we took the lead and our pitching really hurt us. But we do a good job of turning the page and getting on to the next inning and, even that game, we were down to the last out. It’s never been our effort, it’s always been our execution.”

Highlands plays Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in its second series, which begins Tuesday in East Cobb.