Lakeside High School's fast start has been spurred in part by its ability to hit the baseball.
The Panthers proved Wednesday they could also win big without piling up the hits.
Lakeside needed only five hits -- two for extra bases -- to roll over Harlem 12-1 during a Region 3-AAAA game shortened to five innings because of the run rule.
Lakeside's Kody Belcher, the third batter of the game, blasted a two-run homer to highlight a three-run first inning. Lakeside (9-0, 5-0) never trailed and after Wednesday's game was the only team in the region without a loss. All but one of its five region wins have ended by the mercy rule.
Lakeside has scored at least eight runs in all but one of its nine games and scored 14, 11, 21, 16 and 12 runs in region play. The rain on Wednesday did little to affect Lakeside's offensive rhythm.
"It was difficult to stay down and concentrate," said Lakeside leadoff hitter Spencer Starnes, who drove in three runs. "But I'd rather stay here and win than come back tomorrow."
Harlem (4-3, 2-1) singled three times off Lakeside starter Jeffrey Stoner in the first inning, but did not collect a hit the rest of the game. Stoner did not walk a batter, struck out four and improved to 3-0.
"He's attacking guys," said Lakeside coach T.J. Davis. "He's pitching inside, and in this league right here to get what you got to get, you have to pitch inside. He's making a big difference. Everybody behind him plays (better) when he's on the mound."
Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis pulled left-handed starter Derek Beasley, who pitched the Bulldogs past Greenbrier earlier in the year, at the start of the third inning with the score 5-1. Six consecutive Lakeside batters then reached base without earning a hit against two relievers. Lakeside sent 11 batters to the plate that inning and led 12-1 by the time it was over.
Lewis said he wanted to keep Beasley fresh for a possible relief appearance Friday against Hephzibah.
Beasley is also slated to start Monday's key region game against Evans, which is set for Lake Olmstead Stadium.
"It was looking rough," Lewis said. "I didn't want to waste him in a night it wasn't working out too well for him."
Augusta Chronicle staff writer Matt Middleton contributed to this report.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Lakeside coach T.J. Davis talks to his team during a break in a rainy Wednesday matchup against Harlem. Lakeside won 12-1.