2017 Varsity Game Recaps

Lakeside (18-11) @ Lambert – 4/28/17

This will be a tough one to write, so I’ll try my best to keep it succinct.

Everyone associated with the program was hoping for that perfect baseball storm with every kid in the Lakeside lineup performing impeccably, propelling the Vikings to a deep run into the 7A playoffs against the toughest competition.  But perfect storms don’t sweep into town very often.  Only a few high school squads in Georgia get to experience them during the playoffs each year.  Our boys, unfortunately, were not one of them.

The Vikings stood tall and competed hard and well as the visiting team against the No. 10-rated Lambert Longhorns.   But one tough inning in each game cost us, and Lambert swept Lakeside out of the playoffs 5-4 and 6-0.

In game one, Lakeside outhit Lambert and built a 2-0 second inning lead against their best pitcher, who will toss for the College of Charleston next year.  Sean Mootrey, Nick Holt, and Gus Young (RBI) zipped singles in the inning. In the third and fifth innings, Kiernan Acklin, James Knight, and Charlie Ludwick repeated a pattern (double-single-sacrifice fly) to give Lakeside a 4-2 lead.

Matt Holt was pitching well against a tough Longhorn batting order and carried that lead into the bottom of the sixth.  But with two outs, a lefty batter lined one just inside the right field line with the bases loaded.  The triple gave Lambert its first lead, and their hard-throwing closer struck out the top of Lakeside’s batting order in the top of the seventh.

In game two, Beau McKenna kept Lambert off the scoreboard for three innings but was matched by a tough Longhorn lefty pitcher.  In the fourth, McKenna began to tire (three walks and an HBP).  The Lakeside defense broke (three errors in the inning including a dropped strike three followed by a wild throw to first).  Lambert jumped on top 5-0 without the benefit of a single hit in the inning.

Since Lakeside could only muster a Knight single to left and a Cooper Bryant infield hit for the entire game, the contest—and Lakeside’s playoff appearance—were for all intents and purposes over at that point.

So the Vikings finished their 2017 season with an excellent 18-11 record against the best competition from start to finish in recent Lakeside memory.  Every non-region opponent except one made the playoffs, and only a handful of high school teams in the country are better than Parkview, Brookwood, Briarwood Christian, and Tattnall Square Academy.  Lakeside tied Norcross for third in region 7-7A at 7-5 and would have grabbed the region’s 3-seed in the playoffs had a couple of calls gone our way in the game at Parkview.

Ten seniors (Acklin, Bryant, Myles Duett, Nick Holt, Knight, Michael Malinovsky, McKenna, Mootrey, Sam Sly and Sean Wilson) hauled their equipment bags onto the bus for Lakeside for the final time after the Lambert games.  Wilson (Virginia Tech), Mootrey (Georgia Gwinnett College), Knight (Chapman University), and Sly (Gordon State College) will play baseball at the collegiate level next year.  Malinovsky will head to the football field at Presbyterian College.  The mind reels at the damage to the psyches of college coaches that those five kids could inflict.  But  hey, those coaches are grown men and made their decisions freely.

And who knows, there might yet prove to be another college baseball player or two among the other seniors.  If not, we expect great things from the entire group in the classroom.

Coaches Hayes, Gonzalez, and Threatt no doubt will look to rising seniors Ludwick, Matt Holt, David Milam, and Jackson Mathis to put the Lakeside program on their shoulders next year.  Sophomore Young and freshmen Deatric Alexander and Levi Cloud got a lot of valuable varsity experience this season.  Guys from this year’s Vikings JV squad will be expected to step up and deliver as varsity players.  Transfer eligibility rules shouldn’t be a barrier again to catcher Carlos Hernandez.  The beat goes on.

 

Berkmar @ Lakeside (18-9) – 4/21/17

On Senior Night, Coach Hayes filled out his batting order with seniors who carried Lakeside to a 12-1 clobbering of Berkmar in their last regular season game.

While the Vikings finished tied with Norcross at 7-5 in Region 7-7A, Norcross got the No. 3 seed based on the region’s own tiebreaker rules. Lakeside grabbed the region’s fourth and last seed and will open the state playoffs on Friday, April 28, with a doubleheader at Lambert High with games at 4:30 and 7:00.

The boys knew during pregame warmups and the Senior Night ceremony with their parents that the game’s outcome could neither help nor hurt their playoff positioning. They came looking sluggish at best.

Starting pitcher Beau McKenna gave up a single on his first pitch before getting things under control, striking out four during the first two innings. Vikings batters went down quietly during their first couple of turns except for Cooper Bryant’s infield hit in the second.

In the top of the third, Berkmar got a run. The leadoff hitter reached on a throwing error by third baseman Charlie Ludwick. That Patriot moved around on a single and a fielder’s choice grounder. Catcher Sam Sly threw  out a guy stealing second, but the runner from third immediately broke for home and scored without a throw.

In the bottom of the third, Lakeside’s offense finally woke up. Kiernan Acklin reached on an one-out infield hit, stole second and scored on James Knight’s ground single up the middle. Then Sean Mootrey wangled a walk, Knight advanced to third on a wild pitch, and he scored when the Berkmar third baseman couldn’t handle Nick Holt’s hard grounder.

At that point, the dam burst for the Patriots. Sly brought in the third and fourth runs with a single to center. Myles Duett reached on an error, moving courtesy runner Deatric Alexander to third. He came in when Bryant popped a single to right. Berkmar’s third error of the inning, on McKenna’s bouncer to third, brought in the sixth run and Michael Malinovsky drove in the seventh by looping a hit just out of the shortstop’s reach. Acklin’s sacrifice fly to right made it 8-1 Lakeside.

Berkmar went down without scoring in the fourth despite the first two guys singling, as Sly threw out one of them stealing second. In the bottom of the inning, Bryant doubled to left to drive in the Vikings’ ninth run, McKenna brought in two more with a single through the shortstop hole, and Acklin’s ground hit up the middle ended the scoring.

Acklin relieved McKenna on the mound in the fifth and made quick work of the Patriots. The game was called at that point for the run rule.

At the end of the regular season, Acklin’s name could be found all over the hitting leader boards for Region 7-7A. He was second in the region in batting (.438), tied for fourth in home runs (with four, tied with Mootrey), third in slugging (.719), second in RBI (27), third in runs scored (30), fifth in on-base percentage (.495), and tied for second in stolen bases (11).

Sly was fifth in the region in RBI with 20. McKenna and Michael Hannah were both among the region leaders in pitching wins with five apiece. David Milam was third in the region in strikeouts with 37. Mootrey’s .978 fielding percentage ranked third in the region.

Lakeside will need focused performances by everyone on the roster, as well as impressive statistics, to have a fighting chance against Lambert, the top seed from Region 5 and the school that brought Lakeside’s season to a close during the second round of last year’s playoffs. The Vikings and Longhorns will play a best-of-three series, with game three on Saturday the 29th if necessary. Hoping to see all the Lakeside faithful out there lending their support.

 

Lakeside (17-9) @ Berkmar – 4/19/17

The Vikings crushed Berkmar 15-1 behind Matt Holt, who twirled a three-hitter over five innings and drove in three of the Lakeside runs himself.

The run-rule victory raised Lakeside’s record in its first year in Region 7-7A to 6-5.

Our boys put this game away quickly with six runs in their first turn at bat. The first eight Viking batters reached base: Leadoff walk by Kiernan Acklin, single to right by Charlie Ludwick, RBI single to left by Sean Mootrey, walks by Sam Sly and Nick Holt, RBI single to left by Cooper Bryant, RBI single to center by Deatric Alexander, and RBI infield hit by Matt Holt. Viking runs also scored during the inning on a passed ball and an outfield error.

Then Matt Holt took the mound, and his stuff, in simple terms, was good. After a two-out single in the first inning, he retired 10 straight Patriots without benefit of a strikeout. He made Berkmar put the ball in play, with harmless results. Over five innings, he needed just 53 pitches, went strike one on 19 of 19 batters, and threw 74% strikes. He walked no one, didn’t allow a run (unearned) until the fifth, and closed out the game with his only two strikeouts.

In the third inning, Lakeside padded its lead to 8-0 on Matt Holt’s sacrifice fly and an RBI single by James Knight. In the fourth, Mootrey led off with a double and moved around to score on a flyout and groundout.

Then the Vikings piled on in the fifth with six more runs, all the more impressive because our first two batters got out. Sly, Bryant and Knight drove in runs during the inning, but also Berkmar was killing itself with walks and by kicking the ball around.

For the game, Mootrey, Nick Holt, Bryant, and Knight rapped two hits apiece to lead Lakeside’s 11-hit attack. Bryant and Knight had two RBI each. Lakeside also helped itself out on defense with clean fielding, committing only one error during the game.

 

Lakeside (16-9) @ Central Gwinnett – 4/17/17

The Vikings sewed up a trip to the 7A playoffs, riding a complete game three-hitter by Beau McKenna to a 6-0 win at Central Gwinnett.

McKenna gave his sharpest performance of the season, allowing runners to reach scoring position in just two innings. He fanned six Black Knights and walked only one over his seven innings and 96 pitches of work.

Our boys did not start out tattooing the ball either, going hitless through their first two at-bats. But in the third, James Knight led off by grounding a single through the shortstop hole. After Kiernan Acklin flied out, Knight stole second despite three pickoff throws by the Central Gwinnett pitcher. He trotted home on Charlie Ludwick’s double to the base of the center field fence.

Here, smart baserunning paid off for Lakeside. The Black Knights catcher made a great play leaning over the backstop wall to snag Sean Mootrey’s towering foul popup, but Ludwick smartly tagged and advanced to third while the catcher gathered himself. The kid tried a late throw anyway, and when it skidded into left field, Ludwick scored. 2-0 Vikings.

The game was anyone’s to win until the top of the sixth. Mootrey led off with a double and Nick Holt followed with a ground single to left, with courtesy runner Levi Cloud holding at third. Myles Duett patiently waited out four throws over to first and a full count before he lofted a fly ball to right to score Cloud.

Sam Sly then walked and Cooper Bryant singled. With runners at first and second, Holt was picked off and almost made it to third anyway, but the ump ruled him out for kicking the ball out of the third baseman’s glove as he attempted to leap over him. Deatric Alexander then came through with a two-out liner to left to plate Sly, and Bryant scored when the left fielder mishandled the ball. The Vikings had a 5-0 stranglehold on this game.

After a six-pitch, three-groundout inning on the mound by McKenna, Mootrey applied the coup de grace with a full-count liner over the center field fence in the top of the seventh. It was his fourth home run of the season, tying him with Acklin for the team lead.

At 5-5 in Region 7-7A play, it seems likely that Lakeside will enter the state tournament as the region’s No. 4 seed and open with a best-of-three series at Lambert High on April 28.

 

Central Gwinnett @ Lakeside (15-9) – 4/14/17

The Vikings won their fourth straight in a home region contest against Central Gwinnett. Lakeside pulled ahead in a previously tight game with a four-run fifth inning.

Matt Holt picked up with win with three innings of effective relief (three hits, one run, four strikeouts, no walks). The Viking offense showed up in a big way, banging out 14 hits in six at-bats.

But the game was difficult from the get-go, as starting hurler Charlie Ludwick surrendered an infield single to the second Black Knight batter and then a two-run opposite field homer to the first baseman, who is Central Gwinnett’s most dangerous hitter.

However, Ludwick would return the favor during Lakesside’s first at-bat. Kiernan Acklin (stop if you’ve read this before) led off with a double that rattled the left field fence. Ludwick sent his own two-run dinger to left center, serving notice that his batting eye has most definitely returned. It was his first homer of the season. Score 2-2 after one inning.

Ludwick was steadier on the mound in the second, working around a walk and HBP with no damage. When Lakeside came back up, Holt and James Knight got base knocks. With one out, Acklin launched his second double to score Holt, and Ludwick grounded a single up the middle to bring in Knight and Acklin. Our boys seemed to be in the driver’s seat, up 5-2 after the second inning.

But the lead vanished in the top of the fourth. Ludwick yielded a single and two walks to the first three batters he saw. An error by Knight at shortstop let in a run. Ludwick struck out the next two guys looking, but then the Central Gwinnett shortstop lined a two-run single to center field. The Black Knights had climbed back into the game, 5-all.

The top of the lineup came through for the Vikings again in the bottom of the fourth, as Acklin was hit by a pitch, Ludwick popped a single to left field, and Sean Mootrey grounded an RBI single to left. Holt relieved Ludwick on the mound in the fifth and gave up singles to the first two Black Knights he faced, and then a run-scoring 6-4-3 DP grounder. Once again the score was knotted, 6-all.

Lakeside finally got breathing room in the fifth, as the first four Vikings (Holt, Gus Young, Knight and Acklin) reached on singles off the second Central Gwinnett pitcher. Knight’s hit drove in the go-ahead run and Acklin’s brought in two more. Acklin would score on an errant throw as he stole third.

That ended the scoring, as Holt made quick work of the Black Knights in the sixth and seventh innings.

The win brought Lakeside’s Region 7-7A record to 4-5. For the game, Ludwick was 3-4 with four RBI and Acklin 3-4 with three driven in. Holt, Young, and Knight had two hits apiece. The Vikings kept their strikeout numbers low (only three for the game).

 

Lakeside (14-9) vs. Decatur – 4/11/17

Kiernan Acklin stayed hot and the Vikings rode their pitching depth to a 10-6 win over Decatur in a rainout make-up game at Coolray Field.

Lakeside got two innings on the mound to start the game from Matt Holt. Coach Hayes then turned the pitching to David Milam, Cooper Bryant, Kiernan Acklin and Nolan Wilson (who made his season debut).

A six-run fourth inning paced the Vikings offensively, with Acklin’s second triple of the game plating two runs. A trio of bases-loaded walks to Gus Yong, Deatric Alexander and James Knight pushed the Vikings lead to 10-4.

Wilson struck out two in his inning of work. Acklin came on as closer in the seventh and sealed the deal for senior Bryant’s first win.

The Vikings bats came to life in a big way for the second straight night. Sean Mootrey totaled three hits and Acklin, Charlie Ludwick and Knight each contributed two.

Getting to play on a professional Triple A field was certainly a great experience for the Vikings. Every player Coach Hayes brought to Buford got in the game, and Lakeside used this non-region match-up to get ready for the final push before the 7A state playoffs.

 

Lakeside (13-9) @ Stephenson – 4/10/17

This game started in the late afternoon of April 10. The Lakeside crowd just now pulled into their driveways.

Okay, it only feels that way. Between a late start for Stephenson’s Senior Night, lots of hitting by both teams, the Stephenson coaches visiting the mound seemingly more than their pitchers did, and a theatrical umpire who took his time calling balls and strikes, this game went deep, deep into the evening.

Oh, by the way, the Vikings came out on top 19-13. This game got tight late before Lakeside put six runs on the board in the last inning, highlighted by Kiernan Acklin’s three-run blast high over the left-field fence, his fourth homer of the season.

Beau McKenna started on the mound for Lakeside and earned the win after he was handed an 8-1 lead in the third inning. However, he was pulled after 2 1/3 innings after yielding four hits and hitting two Jaguar batters, which let Stephenson pull within 8-5.

Lakeside hung seven runs on Stephenson in the top of the third thanks to booming doubles by Acklin and Charlie Ludwick, a bunt single by Myles Duett and Sam Sly’s sacrifice fly, and six walks drawn during the inning, including four in a row at one point.

The Vikings kept tacking on runs and built the lead back up to 12-6 in the fifth. But reliever Deatric Alexander gave up three consecutive hits followed by infield errors by James Knight and Nick Holt, letting the Jaguars climb within 12-9. Then Gus Young took over on the mound in the bottom of the sixth, quickly retired two batters but then yielded a single, walk, double and single in succession. Lakeside’s big lead had been shaved to a football-like 13-12.

But in the top of the seventh, Cooper Bryant and Young lashed RBI singles, and the Vikings faithful could breathe again. Up came Acklin, who already had three hits and three RBI in this game. He has been having an absolutely sick season at the plate and you just knew he was going to tie into one from an overmatched Stephenson reliever. The three-run blast put this one in the victory column for Lakeside.

For the game, Acklin was an eye-popping four for six with six driven in. Duett went three for four, and Gus Young ended his slump with a two-for-three night with three RBI. Lakeside batters struck out only four times and earned 10 walks.

 

Brookwood @ Lakeside (12-9) – 4/7/17

Lakeside needed to pitch better on its home field, but even if it had, the offense had vanished. The Vikings dropped another contest to Brookwood, 8-0, and saw its region 7-7A record drop to 3-5.

Beau McKenna got the start and struggled to hit his spots in the first inning. The leadoff Bronco doubled, stayed at second on a walk, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored the game’s first run on a flyout to Deatric Alexander in right. Then the next three batters replicated the pattern: Hit, walk, sacrifice fly. Our boys were down 2-0 when they came to bat.

Sean Mootrey lined a two-out double over the center fielder’s head, but the Vikings could not get him in. McKenna came back out, and a one-out error by third baseman Gus Young hurt, as that runner advance on a walk, stole third and scored on a groundout to Young. A single to center brought in Brookwood’s fourth run, and Lakeside once again was in a tough spot early to one of the state’s best squads.

On this evening, the Brookwood pitcher was a little tougher than on the previous night, and the Vikings got far fewer scoring chances. They went quietly in the second, and McKenna yielded a fifth run on a leadoff infield single, a walk and two groundouts.

With Lakeside’s bats quiet, that was more than enough of a margin for Brookwood. David Milam would relieve McKenna in the fifth and retire the Broncos in order for two innings. But a double and single sandwiched around two Lakeside errors in the seventh would let Brookwood tack on three more runs.

For the game, the Vikings would manage only three hits and one walk against a trio of Brookwood pitchers. The team had to be disappointed with that output after the heartbreaking loss at Parkview and win at Norcross showed they could compete well in this region.

 

Lakeside (12-8) @ Brookwood – 4/6/17

The Vikings knew they would have to play near-flawless baseball to steal a win from the state’s No. 4 (in 7A) squad. Committing four errors for the game and getting down 4-0 after two innings made that task very, very difficult.

Lakeside collected nine hits against a gritty Brookwood pitcher and at least one in every inning. But the Vikings could never get any of their runners home and dropped a region game on the road, 7-0 to the Broncos.

In the first game back after spring break, good weather was still on vacation. A cold front lingered over metro Atlanta, and it was jacket-and-sweatshirt time in Snellville.

In the first inning, a leadoff single to center by Kiernan Acklin was quickly wiped out by a double play, and Charlie Ludwick took the mound for Lakeside. The first Bronco batter popped a single to center, advanced to second on a one-out walk and scored on a line hit to right. Ludwick struck out two in the inning, but his team was down 1-0.

Myles Duett’s single went for naught during Lakeside’s at-bat in the second, and Ludwick loaded the bases with none out in Brookwood’s turn (two walks sandwiched around an infield hit). At that point, Coach Hayes decided to lift Ludwick after 43 pitches and bring on middle reliever Matt Holt. It was an unenviable situation, and all three runners soon scored thanks to a walk, fielder’s choice grounder and single to right. Before an outfield-to-infield double play (center fielder Acklin to shortstop James Knight) ended the inning, Lakeside was on its heels, 4-0.

The Vikings had a chance to put some pressure back on Brookwood when Knight led off the third with an infield hit and Gus Young dropped a fly ball in front of the right fielder. The top of the order was coming up with two runners aboard and nobody out. But Acklin would fan, Young get picked off first and Sean Mootrey fly out to center. It was that kind of game. You just never got the feeling that Lakeside was locked in enough to take advantage of its opportunities.

In the Brookwood third, Holt would hang one to a Bronco who crushed a bases-empty homer over the scoreboard in left-center, and the Vikings were down 5-0 and pretty well done for the evening. Holt would go five innings and keep the score reasonable, and let Coach Hayes avoid burning another pitcher. Ludwick and Duett had multi-hit games. But Lakeside needed to do better on both offense and defense to have a chance in this game.

 

Meadowcreek @ Lakeside (12-7) – 3/30/17

The Vikings cruised past an undermanned Meadowcreek squad with a 16-1, three-inning clubbing. And so that annual rite of spring began when Coach Hayes’ thoughts probably run something like this:

“What’s going on down in the Panhandle tonight? Do I really want to know? Is anyone going to be late for next Wednesday evening’s practice? Is anyone going to bring back a record?”

But on this day, everyone could ponder more innocent and pleasing subjects, like the box score. Beau McKenna got the start and surrendered a quick run, as second baseman Levi Cloud booted the first Mustang batter’s grounder, that guy advanced to second on a wild pitch, and the second hitter singled to right. But then the three-hitter flied out to center fielder Kiernan Acklin, who doubled off the runner at first when he lost track of the situation. McKenna fanned the cleanup hitter to end the at-bat.

Lakeside surprisingly went down 1-2-3 in their frame, McKenna eased through the top of the second … and the Vikings hung 15 runs and 10 hits in their half. The entire lineup batted around twice in the inning, and Sam Sly got three at-bats. Cooper Bryant and Kiernan Acklin both nailed two hits, including a two-run Acklin homer. Sly had a triple and Nick Holt a pop double. Acklin drove in four runs in that inning alone, and Holt and McKenna two each. Yeah, it was one of those innings.

McKenna zipped through three innings on just 42 pitches, with three strikeouts, one walk and surrendering the unearned run. In the bottom of the third, his sacrifice fly to center drove in Holt (who led off with his second double of the game) to trigger the run rule and end the game early.

The win evened the Vikings’ region record at 3-3. Lakeside now awaits its next contest at Brookwood on Thursday, April 6 with ambitions to not just be one of four state playoff teams from Region 7-7A but possibly moving up to the No. 3 position. Grabbing a win from Brookwood would go a long way to realizing that ambition. First pitch out in Gwinnett is at 5:55.

 

Lakeside (11-7) @ Meadowcreek – 3/29/17

Lakeside took care of business on the road, quickly putting Meadowcreek down 5-0 in the first inning and cruising to a 14-2 victory. It was the Vikings’ second straight win in region play (2-3 in Region 7-7A).

In the first inning, our lineup batted around. The first three hitters reached on a walk and two errors, the second of which let Kiernan Acklin score the game’s first run.. Myles Duett drove in another on a groundout, and he was followed quickly by RBIs from Nick Holt (single to left) and Sam Sly (sacrifice fly). James Knight beat out an infield hit and eventually scored the fifth run on Deatric Alexander’s single to right.

Starting pitcher Charlie Ludwick had no problems, striking out four in two hitless innings to eventually earn the win. In the top of the second, Acklin led off and launched his second home run of the season to put Lakeside up 6-0.

For the game, the Vikings would score in every inning but the third and were paced offensively once again by Acklin, who kept up his torrid hitting with three more. Holt, Alexander, and Cooper Bryant recorded two hits each. Sam Sly had three RBI, and Alexander and Acklin drove in two more each. Lakeside rang up 13 hits for the game.

Ludwick gave way in the third inning to lefty David Milam, who surrendered three straight hits leading off the fourth, including a two-run double. This had the Lakeside faithful pondering whether Milam’s getting his luscious hair cut was bad karma. But the newly shorn junior shrugged it off and gave Coach Hayes five strong innings and 11 strikeouts.

A game like this was great for the Vikings offense to break out and regain some confidence before the crucial series with Brookwood after spring break.

 

Lakeside (10-7) @ Norcross, 3/27/17

The Vikings picked up their much-needed first region win by taking down Norcross on the road, 8-5.

Lakeside jumped on Norcross starter and Navy commit Cooper Stinson quickly. Kiernan Acklin stayed hot at the plate with a leadoff double to start the game, and he would later score on Charlie Ludwick’s single to give the Vikes an early advantage.

A string of bloop hits and a sacrifice fly plated two runs in the bottom of the first off Lakeside starter Michael Hannah. The game would then became a back-and-forth affair, with wild pitches scoring runs for the Vikings and Blue Devils in the third inning, which ended tied 3-3.

A long RBI double by Sean Mootrey in the top of the fourth broke that tie, and Lakeside would not relinquish the lead. A Deatric Alexander RBI single and a pair of bases-loaded walks to James Knight and Gus Young  stretched the Vikings lead out to 8-3 in the seventh inning, and our boys held on.

Hannah was a workhorse for the Vikings, going the distance on 110 pitches and giving his bullpen the night off. Only two runs against him were earned, as he fanned four and walked three.

 

Norcross @ Lakeside (9-7) – 3/24/17

The Vikings hoped to shoulder aside a likely close competitor for region seeding and a state playoff spot.  But Norcross put Lakeside in an early hole from which they never emerged, losing 10-2 at home.

The Norcross starter had a sharp breaking ball that kept our hitters off balance in the early innings. By the time he started tiring and losing some break, it was too late.

Beau McKenna started on the mound in this home game.  He struck out the first Blue Devil he saw and got the next guy to ground out. But then second baseman Nick Holt muffed a grounder, McKenna walked the cleanup hitter, and the Norcross first baseman rode a fastball over the left-center fence. 3-0 Blue Devils.

McKenna retired Norcross in order in the second inning, but in the third the leadoff hitter walked, stole second and advance to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a groundout to shortstop James Knight.  Then came a sharp single and double.  The runners held on a groundout to Holt, but the next guy lined a two-run single to left. Norcross had a stranglehold on this game, up 6-0.

The Vikings did get the bats going and edge closer in the bottom of the third. Third baseman Gus Young led off with a hard grounder into left field, and with one out, Kiernan Acklin advanced him to third on a ringing double to left. Young scored on Charlie Ludwick’s sharp single to center, and Sam Sly’s sacrifice fly plated Acklin.

David Milam came on in relief of McKenna and retired Norcross with no incident in the fourth. But he gave up a four-spot in the fifth, fueled by three walks, two singles and a throwing error by catcher Sean Mootrey on a rundown play. At 10-2, the game was essentially over.

But if you had left, you would have missed Lakeside’s wacky new pitching rotation, as outfielders Michael Malinovsky and Cooper Bryant each took an inning on the mound. And, each kid kept Norcross from scoring further.

For the game, Lakeside scratched out five hits against a pitcher who went all seven innings and 112 pitches.  If the Vikings were to take a win from Norcross, it would have to happen as the visiting team.

 

Lakeside (9-6) @ Parkview – 3/22/17

The Vikings offense bounced back in a major way from their earlier loss to Parkview, but they were unable to hold an early lead against the nation’s 13th-ranked high school squad.  They gave up three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and then lost on a walk-off, 7-6.

Lakeside jumped all over Panthers starter and Georgia Southern commit Braden Hays in the top of the first. Three straight hits by Kiernan Acklin, Sean Mootrey, and Charlie Ludwick started the game. Then senior catcher Sam Sly clubbed his second home run of the season, an opposite field grand slam, to put the Vikings on top 4-0 after their first at-bat.

The lead stretched to five in the top of the third as Sly singled in Ludwick. But then solo home runs by Parkview’s Joey Demasi and Jonathan French off Lakeside starter Michael Hannah helped the Panthers inch closer, 5-2 after three innings.

Hannah was a bulldog as usual, getting the Vikings through five-plus innings and giving Lakeside a chance against the toughest opponent on its schedule.

But the game started to unravel for the Vikings in the top of the sixth. When Hannah ran out of gas, Matt Holt came on in middle relief. He induced a run-scoring double play grounder that seemed  to swing momentum back to the Vikings, but then he struggled to find the zone. An HBP was followed by a run-scoring infield single and a walk. Coach Hayes elected to bring in Acklin for the four-out save.

But the ump’s … questionable call on a 3-2 pitch to Panther centerfielder Will Boles tied the game, with the bases-loaded walk forcing in a run. It was 6-all after six innings.

The Vikings went scoreless in the top of the 7th, and Parkview led off their at-bat with a double. A sacrifice bunt moved him over to third, and a wild pitch on a suicide squeeze play let the relieved Panthers walk off in the win.

But the Vikings had shown they could play with anyone. A couple more bounces of the ball their way would have snatched a win from Parkview in their house. That bodes well for the rest of the region schedule.

 

Parkview @ Lakeside (9-5) – 3/20/17

It’s probably bad form to give a terse account of a game in which your team got hammered. But that’s what I’m going to do here.

Suffice it to say, Lakeside was never in it against one of the best teams in the Southeast, if not the country. Starter Charlie Ludwick gave up a home run to the first Parkview hitter he saw, and it just about every ball the Panthers put in play in the first inning was a tracer. With one out, eight straight Parkview hitters reached base against Ludwick by hit or walk, and then reliever Beau McKenna gave up a two-run double on his first pitch.

Lakeside was down 9-0 after one inning. Game over. McKenna and lefty David Milam would minimize the damage after that but they needed a lot of pitches to do it, as Parkview hitters are expert at extending at-bats with foul balls and rarely swing and miss.

The final was 13-0, with the game called for the run rule after five innings. Kiernan Acklin had two hits and Sam Sly another, but otherwise the Vikings offense was handcuffed by a tough Parkview lefty who will pitch for Mercer next year. Lakeside needed to regroup and see if they could be more effective against Parkview as the visitor, and avoid digging a hole to start 7-7A region play.

 

Lakeside (9-4) @ St. Pius – 3/14/17

You never want to play the “coulda, shoulda” game. This entire game on a gray and chilly afternoon felt like it was just waiting for Lakeside to seize control. But our boys just never hit enough to really earn a win, and St. Pius toppled the Vikings 4-3 on a walkoff single.

Our pitching was solid, if not spectacular, by starter Charlie Ludwick and middle reliever Matt Holt. They turned the game over to closer Kiernan Acklin in the seventh with a 3-2 lead, which usually means game over. But Acklin had his first sub-par outing in recent memory, giving up three solid hits.

Ludwick, whose batting eye has come around much to the relief of the scuffling Lakeside offense, singled to right with one out in the first and proceeded to second on an outfield error. Courtesy runner Myles Duett came around to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead when the Pius first baseman booted Sean Mootrey’s grounder.

Ludwick breezed through inning one on the mound but had to work through trouble in the second. Pius’ best hitter, a catcher bound for Nebraska, led off with a double. Fortunately, catcher Mootrey gunned down the courtesy runner trying to steal third. But then came a walk, an error by third baseman Gus Young and a single, with the runners holding. With the bases full, Ludwick struck out the next two Golden Lions to keep them off the scoreboard.

But in the third, Ludwick struggled with his control and gave up a one-out double and three walks. The last free pass forced home the tying run.

Lakeside quickly took the lead back in the fourth. Ludwick led off with a walk, and courtesy runner Duett raced around to third on the hit-and-run with Mootrey’s single to left. Nick Holt’s fly ball to center was deep enough to score Duett. A chance for a bigger inning was spoiled when courtesy runner Beau McKenna left second base too early on the same fly ball and was doubled off.

Holt took over for Ludwick (three Ks, four walks and 65 pitches in his three innings) in the bottom of the fourth and gave up a single to the first hitter he saw. That guy stole second and was alert enough to go for third on a dropped-third-strike throw to first base. With two outs, shortstop Levi Cloud misplayed a bouncer, and the score was tied again 2-2.

In the sixth inning, things were looking good for the Vikings. With one out, Ludwick took a fast ball the other way, slicing a line drive just inside the left field line that then skipped into foul ground with tailing action. Running hard, Ludwick slid into third just ahead of the tag. He would score on a squeeze bunt by Sam Sly; it looked like Pius had a play at the plate but decided for the safe out at first. When Holt struck out two Golden Lions to end the sixth, the men in purple had every reason to think they would leave with a 3-2 win.

Not to be, however. Acklin came on and gave up an infield single to the first hitter on a sharp bouncer into the hole that Cloud barely kept in the infield. The next hitter flied out, and with first base open, Lakeside decided to pitch to the Pius catcher. He made them pay with a ringing double to left-center that tied the game yet again.

Acklin struck out the next hitter, but with two outs, the Pius center fielder lined a hit to left center to send the Vikings crowd home disappointed.

 

Tattnall Square Academy @ Lakeside (9-3), 3/11/17

Hits were a rare commodity in the back half of the doubleheader. But Lakeside got strong and steady innings from starting pitcher Michael Hannah, and Tattnall Square’s own mistakes did them in. The Vikings came out on top 3-2, dealing the Macon private school its first loss in 11 games.

Maybe the Trojans thought they saw a potential undefeated season slipping away. Maybe they were ticked off about their star shortstop getting plunked three times on the day. Maybe the eclectic chatter from the home dugout started to irritate. Whatever the reasons, this game started to get chippy late, and both teams had their game faces on in the sixth and seventh innings.

Both teams managed only two hits for the game. Hannah went 5 1/3 innings, whiffing five, walking just two, and keeping the very strong Tattnall offense off the scoreboard until the sixth inning.

In the second, Lakeside caught a break and its first lead of the day. With two outs, Michael Malinovsky hit a hard ground ball that the shortstop booted. Then Nick Holt grounded the Vikings’ first hit of the game up the middle, and when the center fielder mishandled it and let it keep rolling, Malinovsky came around to score.

Hannah got his two walks behind him in the first two innings and picked up steam, zipping through the third and fourth with an infield single the only damage. In the bottom of the fourth, Myles Duett led off with a walk and stole second. James Knight dropped down a sacrifice bunt and got him over to third. Michael Malinovsky reached on the shortstop’s error, but Duett held at third. But a wild pitch gave him time to score, and when the Tattnall first baseman booted Nick Holt’s grounder, Malinovsky came home to make it 3-0 Lakeside.

At that point, you could tell from the mood and muttering from the Tattnall dugout they had not driven up from Macon expecting to lose either game. The extra intensity did not help the Trojans in a 1-2-3 fifth inning for Hannah, but in the sixth they began to assert some pressure. A one-out single followed by an HBP ended Hannah’s day. Closer Kiernan Acklin came on, but he could not find the strike zone right away.

A walk loaded the bases, and Acklin’s wild pitch let Tattnall score its first run of the game. Then came another walk to re-load the bases, and a fly ball to Duett in left was deep enough to bring in run No. 2. Acklin then settled down and got out of the inning with a grounder to shortstop Knight.

That set the stage for a really interesting conclusion, as Tattnall made two absolutely great catches of short fly balls in the bottom of the sixth  In the Trojans’ last at-bat, Acklin struck out the first two hitters and got the third to fly out to center fielder Deatric Alexander, and that was all she wrote.

 

Tattnall Square Academy @ Lakeside (8-3) 3/11/17

Our boys ran up against a quality side who drove up from Macon and efficiently ended Lakeside’s four-game win streak with an 11-3 pounding. No-hit until the fifth inning, the Vikings offense managed to scratch together four late-game hits, but it was nowhere near enough.

Beau McKenna got the start and seemed to pitch too carefully, because he was missing his spots. After earning a three-pitch strikeout to start the game, he walked the bases full with one out. The No. 5 hitter dropped a hit into right-center to plate the game’s first run, and then a sacrifice fly to left put Tattnall up 2-0.

The Trojans brought out a pitcher with great side-to-side action on his slider, but he too had trouble with control. Kiernan Acklin walked to lead off, Sam Sly also walked with one out, and then Myles Duett was hit by a pitch. Michael Malinovsky got credit for an RBI by coaxing yet another free pass with the bases loaded. Tattnall’s lead was cut in half, 2-1 after an inning.

It got bigger quickly. In the second, McKenna gave up a leadoff double grounded just inside the third base line. Another walk was issued, and that Trojan stole second. Then came a two-run single looped into right center. Tattnall’s shortstop, a Georgia Tech commit, lined into a left field-to-2B double play, but the damage was done. The Vikings were down 4-1.

David Milam took over on the mound in the third and escaped trouble despite giving up two hits, but he was not so fortunate in the fourth inning. He could not control his curveball on this chilly Saturday afternoon.

Four walks were compounded by a run-scoring wild pitch, an RBI triple and RBI single, and a two-run bomb well into the kudzu down the left field line. Lakeside was down 9-1 and pretty much done for the first half of this doubleheader.

However, in the late innings, Lakeside’s offense did find a little life. Charlie Ludwick’s bat continued to heat up, as he slapped two hits. Sam Sly brought in a run in the fifth with a groundout, and Duett did the same in the seventh.

Too little, too late. The Vikings were left to wonder if they could control the batters from this very strong small private school squad in the second game of the doubleheader.

 

Arabia Mountain @ Lakeside (8-2) 3/9/17

Lakeside’s offense picked it up a notch against a tough opponent, enough to take down Arabia Mountain 6-3 in a darkness-shortened 4 ½-inning game.

However, the single-biggest factor in this win may have been rightly reliever Matt Holt. For his second straight time on the mound, the junior delivered quality innings and kept the lid on any comeback. Holt delivered 2 2/3 innings of no-hit relief, walking no one and making Arabia Mountain put the ball in play—for the most part right into the Vikings’ defense.

The Rams have a good record and a very capable top of the batting order, and Vikings starter Charlie Ludwick had to work hard from the get-go. In the first inning he gave up a leadoff infield single and a one-out hit, but worked out of trouble with no damage.

The Arabia Mountain starter wasn’t so fortunate. Lakeside batters started out this game locked in. Kiernan Acklin walked to start the inning, James Knight followed with a bunt single, and Ludwick broke out of a hitting slump with a line drive to left. However, Acklin was nailed several steps short of the plate.

No worries. Myles Duett laid down another bunt single, moving Knight to third base and courtesy runner Beau McKenna to second. Knight then scored on a passed ball, and Sam Sly’s fly ball to center was deep enough to score McKenna. The Vikings had not put many crooked numbers on the scoreboard lately but led 2-0 after one inning.

Ludwick posted a 1-2-3 top of the second with two Ks, letting the Lakeside offense get back at it. Nick Holt led off and reached on the third baseman’s error. Gus Young then flied out, and Deatric Alexander fanned swinging. Up came Acklin, who has been the Vikings’ best hitter this season by a wide margin. He showed why as he crushed a long fly over the left field fence for his first homer (and the team’s fifth) of the season. 4-0 Lakeside after two.

In the third, that top of the Arabia Mountain lineup gave Ludwick problems. A leadoff double and walk, followed by a sacrifice bunt, put runners at second and third with one out. The lead runner scored on Ludwick’s wild pitch, and another walk loaded the bases.

Then came a wild pickoff throw to second by catcher Sam Sly and a line single to right, both of which scored runs. Coach Hayes lifted Ludwick and brought in Holt, who fanned the first hitter he saw and got the next guy on a tapper to the mound. But Arabia Mountain had tightened the lead to 4-3.

Fortunately, the Vikings got some breathing room in the bottom of the fourth, as the Arabia Mountain shortstop misplayed Knight’s towering popup into an RBI hit by staggering into Acklin as he rounded second. A wild pickoff throw to first let Acklin score from third and provided the last scoring. The Arabia Mountain bus was late to the ballpark, and that cost them two more at-bats to catch up as the umpires called the game for dusk.

Lakeside’s six hits over four at-bats had been well timed and ran the team’s winning streak to four games.

 

Southwest DeKalb @ Lakeside (7-2) – 3/6/17

Hits and big innings remain scarce commodities for the Vikings so far this season, but our boys piece together just enough offense to best Southwest DeKalb in their (at last!) home opener.

Beau McKenna settled in after issuing a couple of costly walks in the top of the first and hurled six strong innings, scattering three hits and fanning five. Kiernan Acklin nailed down another save, and Sam Sly drove his first homer of the year over the left field fence to provide some breathing room.

In the first inning, McKenna fanned the first Panther he faced but then yielded a couple of fast walks. A stolen base and a wild pitch put the runners at second and third, where a sacrifice fly to right and a single up the middle plated both of them. 2-0 visitors.

The score stayed there for a little while. Lakeside’s lone hit, a first inning leadoff single by Acklin, went nowhere. McKenna helped his own cause by starting a fast 1-6-3 double play on a comebacker in the second inning and picking a runner off second base to end the third inning.

In the bottom of the third, Lakeside started making some things happen. Gus Young led off with a walk and legged it to third on Acklin’s double to deep center. From there, well-struck sacrifice flies by James Knight and Charlie Ludwick tied the score.

The Vikings pulled ahead in their next at-bat without hitting the ball out of the infield. Cooper Bryant coaxed a one-out walk and made it around to third on two passed balls. Levi Cloud reached on a dropped third strike and Young was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with two outs. A wild pitch rolled far enough toward the visitor’s dugout to let Bryant score. 3-2 Lakeside.

In the fifth, Sly came up with two outs. Sam had struck out swinging twice earlier and did not exactly hide his feelings on the matter. But on a full count, he squared up on a fast ball and sent it onto the access road.

Lakeside would hold that two-run lead. With his pitch count rising, McKenna gave up an infield hit and a single to center in the top of the sixth but ended another inning by picking a Panther at second base. Acklin took over and struck out the side in the seventh, sending a nice home opener crowd of students and parents home happy.

The Vikings will stay at Wilson Field for a little while, starting with a 4:30 game against Arabia Mountain on Thursday the 9th. That school no one here seems to have heard of, Tattnall Square Academy of Macon, comes in for a 1 p.m./3 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday the 11th. Know this much: Tattnall won the Georgia private school state title last season and is off to a 7-0 start this year. Finally, St. Pius visits on Monday the 13th at 4:30 to make up a canceled game.

 

Lakeside (6-2) @ Columbia – 3/4/17

Lakeside took down Columbia on the road 7-4, taking advantage of a host of defensive mistakes and mixing in their few hits at opportune times.

Matt Holt picked up the win in relief, delivering four solid and scoreless innings that the Vikings offense badly needed until it could break through in this contest, which was part of the annual “Best of DeKalb” event.

Our boys managed only four hits for the afternoon, but the first was Sean Mootrey’s towering blast to left field in the bottom of the first. His second dinger of the season put Lakeside on top 1-0.

Starter David Milam got through the first inning in good shape with two strikeouts, but he ran into trouble in the second. A one-out single was followed by a walk and two HBPs, the second of which tied the score. Then came a bases-loaded infield hit that shortstop James Knight could not corral, and a two-out, two-run single to left. Lakeside had its back against the wall, down 4-1.

Our offense was putting a succession of zeroes on the scoreboard and that three-run deficit was a bit unnerving. Holt came on in the third and fortunately kept the Eagles in check. He made Columbia put the ball in play, and much of the time those were grounders right at the defense. Holt struck out two, walked only one and scattered four hits from the third through the sixth innings.

The Vikings started to catch some breaks in the fifth (or rather, they were handed some breaks). With one out, Nick Holt reached on a dropped third strike and Deatric Alexander got on via a throwing error by the second baseman, with Holt reaching third. Levi Cloud plated the Vikings’ second run by pushing a grounder to the right side.

Then the offense got going again, with back-to-back, solid RBI doubles by Kiernan Acklin and Knight tying the score. Knight advanced to third on a wild pitch and later scored on a catcher error to put Lakeside ahead 5-4.

Holt got out of some minor trouble in the bottom of that inning, when a one-out error and single put two runners on whom Columbia could not score. In the top of the seventh, Lakeside got some breathing room. A relief pitcher walked Acklin and Knight to start the inning, and two wild pitches let them each move up a base. A one-out fly to right field by Myles Duett would have scored the Vikings’ sixth run anyway, but the outfielder dropped it. Sam Sly’s hit to right was clean and put Lakeside up by 7-4.

Acklin came on as the closer in the bottom of the seventh. He gave up a leadoff double, a walk and a bunt single that almost reached second base. Suddenly the Columbia crowd, especially that guy standing behind the backstop who just loves batting practice, was feeling it. But Acklin helped himself out by picking off a runner at second, and his fast ball picked up some zip as he struck out the last two Eagles swinging.

 

Lakeside (5-2) @ Peachtree Ridge (2-8) 3/2/17

A five-run top of the seventh gave the Vikings a 7-3 win over Peachtree Ridge and moved starter Michael Hannah to 3-0 on the season.

Hannah pitched six strong innings, scattering only two hits and only one earned run, striking out two.

The Vikings got on the board first in the top of the third. Shortstop James Knight led off with a hit, and a Sean Mootrey double and a wild pitch brought him around. 1-0 Vikings.

The only scoring for Peachtree Ridge on the night came in the bottom half of the inning. Some sloppy defense including two throwing errors by catcher Sam Sly (who later made amends by picking off a runner and nailing another stealing) hurt the Vikings. Hannah gave up RBIs on a flare hit and a sacrifice fly to center field, with Deatric Alexander nailing a runner trying to take third just after a Lion had crossed home plate with the third run.

Mootrey’s RBI groundout in the fifth got Lakeside within 3-2, but the Vikings were squandering men on base and this game just did not have a positive feel—until their last-at bat, when our boys strung together several excellent at bats.

Knight led off with a hard ground single right off the middle. Mootrey got nothing to hit, getting walked quickly. Myles Duett tried to advance the runners with a bunt, and everything worked out for the Vikings when the throw to third was too late to get Knight. Then Sam Sly worked the Peachtree Ridge reliever for a walk that brought in the tying run.

Lakeside took the lead on a great at-bat by junior third baseman Charlie Ludwick, who fought off several pitches and eventually inside-outed a drive down the left field line to score two runs. Another bases-loaded walk to Nick Holt and a sacrifice fly by Acklin pushed the Viking lead to 7-3.

That was more than they needed, as Acklin took the mound to close the game out threw a brilliant seventh, needing only nine pitches to strike out two and retire the side in order.

The Vikings will play an odd doubleheader on Saturday, visiting St. Pius at 10 a.m. and then as soon as that game ends, driving to Columbia High for a 2 p.m. scheduled first pitch in the annual Best of DeKalb event. Rumor has it we will eventually play a home game this season.

 

Briarwood Christian, AL (4-0) @ Lakeside (4-2) – 2/25/17

Remember that first game of the season vs. Pace Academy, when the Vikings walked far too many guys, made too many errors and did not look good in any phase of the game?

This was much, much worse.

Lakeside imploded from the get-go, as Coach Hayes pulled starting pitcher Charlie Ludwick after only 17 pitches and four batters, having walked three of them and given up a hit. He was relieved by Beau McKenna, who likewise couldn’t find the strike zone. Two hits, four walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a grounder misplayed by second baseman Kiernan Acklin later, the Vikings found themselves down by 8-0. It had all happened so fast.

It only went downhill from there. McKenna got through more innings unscathed, then walked the bases full with no outs in the fourth. Deatric Alexander inherited that unenviable situation and issued a couple of free passes of his own, then had to stay on the mound through a succession of hits in the fifth because Lakeside had run out of arms this Saturday.

When the dust finally settled, Lakeside had been run-ruled by a whopping 22-3 after five innings.  A really good Briarwood Christian squad that send out a starting pitcher who throws 90 mph and didn’t need any help had been gifted with 13 walks, four errors, three HBPs and two wild pitches.

The Vikings will have to regroup and refocus quickly, as the next two weeks feature contests with  Peachtree Ridge, St. Pius and last year’s private school state champ Tattnall Square Academy. First up, however, is the (finally) home opener against Cedar Grove on Wednesday, March 1, first pitch at 4:30.

 

Lakeside (4-1) @ Mountain Brook, AL (2-2) – 2/25/17

In the middle of the game, the Viking offense suddenly rounded into form and built a nice lead against a solid squad from suburban Birmingham. Things got tense late, but Lakeside hung on for a 5-4 victory.

Righty Michael Hannah has given the Vikings’ sharpest performances on the mound so far, and he delivered again. He limited Mountain Brook to two hits and one run in his five innings of work, striking out five and walking five.

Lakeside jumped on top in the top of the first thanks to the opponent’s defensive miscues. James Knight reached on a dropped third strike, and after two popups, a ground ball double to left by Myles Duett advanced Knight to third. He then scored on a wild pitch and the Vikings jumped out on top.

The score stayed at 1-0 through three innings, as the only hit off Hannah was an infield single up the middle. But our batters were not exactly tattooing the ball, either.

That changed in the fourth. Sean Mootrey led off the inning with a towering home run to left field. Then a walk to Duett, a throwing error by Mountain Brook’s pitcher, and Sam Sly’s RBI ground single to right made the score 3-0.

Charlie Ludwick, another Viking who was overdue at the plate, kept things going with another single to right, moving pinch runner Levi Cloud to second. Cloud got picked off, but Ludwick took his place at second on the rundown. Two batters later, Michael Malinovsky singled to left to score Ludwick and put Lakeside up 4-0.

Mountain Brook finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth but only thanks to a dropped third strike and infield errors by Hannah and catcher Sam Sly. Lakeside got that run right back in the sixth thanks to a leadoff single by freshman Deatric Alexander, a walk to Knight and Kiernan Acklin’s line drive hit to left.

Matt Holt relieved Hannah in the bottom of the sixth and had a tough inning. Two walks sandwiched around a single loaded the bases with no outs, and a wild pitch plated Mountain Brook’s second run. Then came an RBI hit, and the third run of the inning scored on a double-steal play. The Vikings clung to a 5-4 lead.

Fortunately, that’s where the score stayed. Acklin came on in relief in the seventh and got two quick infield outs, shook off a walk and struck out the last Mountain Brook hitter swinging.

It was the third straight season that Lakeside had driven over to Alabama for a day of round-robin baseball. The Vikings hoped to keep the momentum going in the day’s second game against Briarwood Christian, a private school that had put up some big offensive numbers already this year.

 

Lakeside (3-1) @ Druid Hills – 2/20/17

Lakeside’s offense went MIA again in the second game of the round robin. But two unearned runs and strong pitching were enough to carry the Vikings to a 3-1 win over their neighborhood rival.

Pitchers David Milam and Beau McKenna kept Red Devils hitters at bay until the seventh inning, when things got a bit dicey and Druid Hills plated its only run.

Lakeside finally broke through against Druid Hills starter Harrison Aiken in the top of the fifth, when Sean Mootrey’s ground ball went right through an infielder’s legs, scoring Levi Cloud and James Knight.

Cooper Bryant’s sixth-inning sacrifice fly (and 5th RBI of the day) scored Ludwick and put the Vikings up 3-0.

That was enough of a cushion on this day for Milam (four innings, three hits, six strikeouts, one walk) and McKenna (three innings, three hits, four strikeouts, one walk). They both got ahead on hitters, threw above 60% strikes, and avoided giving free passes. That is how Lakeside will need to pitch consistently this year under the GHSA’s new pitch-count restrictions.

Milam wiggled out of two bases-loaded situations. McKenna breezed through his first seven batters, then yielded three singles, a walk and a run. But with the volume from the Druid Hills dugout and parents picking up markedly, he calmly struck out the last Red Devil.

The competition level should rise for the Vikings this weekend, as they travel to Birmingham, Ala., for a round robin with Briarwood Christian and Mountain Brook on Feb. 25. These are traditionally strong baseball programs, and Lakeside will need to be sharp in all phases of the game to compete. If sacrifices to Jobu are needed to wake up the bats, then whatever is necessary …

Meanwhile, Alabama law enforcement and hotel managers have been advised to prepare for the worst.

 

Chamblee (2-1) @ Lakeside (2-1) – 2/20/17

The Vikings’ bats perked up as a team for the first time this spring, launching 10 hits in a 7-3 win over Chamblee in a Presidents’ Day round robin on Druid Hills’ home field.

Cooper Bryant got his excellent day at the plate started with two hits and 3 RBI. Michael Malinovsky and James Knight also heated up their bats with two hits apiece.

Vikings starting pitcher Charlie Ludwick got off to a bit of a rough start in the first inning, with walks and an RBI groundout leaving Lakeside down 2-0. An old friend walked out to the bump for Chamblee in the bottom of the inning: Senior Evan Fletcher, who transferred over from Lakeside after last year.

Fletcher got through his first inning unscathed, but in the bottom of the second Kiernan Acklin touched him up for an RBI hit. The Vikings then broke the game open in the third with three more runs and a 4-2 lead.

Ludwick kept Chamblee off the scoreboard for the remainder of his four innings on the mound (four strikeouts, four hits, four walks). Junior Matthew Holt finished up on the mound the last three innings, striking out four and giving up four hits and a sixth-inning run.

Lakeside’s defense backed up the pitchers with a clean, errorless game, meaning our boys have committed only one error over the last two contests.

 

Lakeside (1-1) @ Tucker (0-2) – 2/17/17

Clutch pitching and a few timely hits carried the Vikings to victory against rival Tucker, pushing the Vikings record to 1-1.

In a fast-moving game, the Vikings managed only four hits off Tucker righties Kyle Washington and Louis Davenport. Three of them came off the bat of Myles Duett, including the game-clinching home run to right center in the fourth inning.

After walking a dozen batters in their season-opening loss, Vikings pitchers pounded the strike zone this time and cut down the free passes to five for the game. Our three pitchers combined to hold the Tigers to just two hits.

Starter Michael Hannah struck out six in four innings of work and did a great job working out of trouble. He got a nice boost from reliever Kiernan Acklin, who whiffed five Tigers in two innings.

Lakeside scored first in the second inning when Duett singled, stole second and eventually scored on a Gus Young sacrifice fly. The lead doubled in the fourth when Duett turned on a fastball to stretch the Vikings lead to 2-0. Myles then treated the crowd to one of the more, ahem, exuberant home run trots you’ll ever see. It wasn’t quite this bad https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=yfp-t&p=home+run+trot+dance#id=1&vid=106f4c0c05af98d50680857be03af31e&action=click, but it was flat-out unique.

Hannah yielded a ground ball single past a diving third baseman Sean Mootrey to lead off the Tucker fifth, and with the pitch count at 76, Coach Hayes brought in lefty David Milam in relief. Two HBPs (one drawing howls of protest from the Lakeside faithful about whether the batter leaned in) and a walk brought the lead runner around to score.

Fortunately, Acklin slammed the door shut on Tucker over the last two frames, striking out the side in the 7th.

 

Lakeside Vikings (0-1) at Pace Academy (1-0) – 2/10/17

The 2017 season got off to a rocky start for Lakeside, as the Vikings scuffled in virtually every aspect of the game and dropped a road contest at Pace Academy by an 11-4 score.

Our boys simply are not going to beat teams on their tough schedule when they strike out 12 times (six looking), yield 12 walks, commit two outfield errors and a balk, and get a runner picked off at third to end an inning. Not when they could only scratch out four hits against a succession of Pace pitchers who made up for a lack of physical size with nice velocity.

On a chilly opening night, Pace happily took advantage to break in their new ballfield, which is tucked up against a railroad yard in south Cobb County.

Not much value taking a lot of space for an inning-by-inning rundown of this particular contest, unfortunately. Here are some highlights and lowlights:

The good

  • James Knight (2-RBI double to deep center), Sam Sly (double to right), Kiernan Acklin (line single to left), and Sean Mootrey (single up the middle) gave quality at-bats.
  • Mootrey made two nice plays at third base during the game, backhanding a hard bouncer and also smartly holding onto the ball following a bunt single to nail the lead runner, who overran second base.
  • Acklin caught the Pace defense napping with stolen bases on consecutive pitches.
  • Lefty reliever David Milam had some nice moments in his varsity debut, shaking off a bases-loaded balk to strike out three in 1 2/3 innings of work before getting hit with the walks bug.

The bad

The game got away from the Vikings during three innings.

  • In the bottom of the third, starting pitcher Charlie Ludwick struggled and gave up two hits and three walks. Right fielder Malinovsky lost track of a fly ball, and the Vikings defense gifted an extra base by being too casual relaying that dropped fly to the infield. Down by only 1-0 going into the inning, the Vikings were on their heels with a 5-0 deficit.
  • With Lakeside down 5-1 in the top of the fifth, Pace walked the bases full with no outs. But the Vikings could only get one of those runners home.
  • Beau McKenna relieved Milam in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded and one out. He coaxed a slow fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop from the first hitter but then left one up in the zone with two strikes on the next guy. The no-doubt, three-run dinger to left field left the Vikings down 9-2 and basically ended their night.

So, our boys will try to sharpen their focus and pick up their first win at Tucker this Friday, with a 3 p.m. first pitch. Riverwood comes to Wilson Field for Lakeside’s first home contest at noon on Saturday. Got a feeling there will be some tough practices between now and those games.

Advertisements