Patriots' fans can still find a reason to cheer

As he left the dugout 30 minutes after the game's conclusion, Westside coach Gerald Barnes was greeted with a standing ovation.


Patriots supporters applauded their longtime coach, the winningest coach in Georgia history, after another fine season that came to an end Wednesday evening.

For the second day in a row, Lovett hit the ball all over the park in a 13-6 series-clinching win in the Class AA quarterfinals.

The Lions (23-9) advance to play Cook in the semifinals. Westside ends its season at 26-4.

"It was a good season," junior shortstop Logan Gaines said. "We ran through the region. The last game was pretty bad, but all in all it was good."

Gaines hit three home runs during the series, including two in Game 2. He finished with 15 homers for the season, matching senior center fielder Sanders Commings for the team lead.

Senior pitcher/first baseman Chand-ler Hall, who went 2-for-4 from the plate, added another RBI. Hall, who will play baseball at Middle Georgia College in the fall, finished the season with 67 RBI, falling seven RBI short of tying the state season record.

Hall's RBI single in the top of the first kicked off Westside's two-run inning.

But momentum switched for good in the bottom half.

Lovett senior first baseman Adam Whitlock dominated Westside's pitching staff, going 5-for-6 with two homers and seven RBI during the series.

"He played as good as any player we've faced this year," Barnes said. "He looked like a real solid player."

Whitlock blasted a first-inning grand slam off starter Christian Bragg to give Lovett a two-run lead. Whitlock later drew three intentional walks before reliever Eric Vivian struck him out looking with bases loaded in the seventh. But the damage was done with his first swing of the game.

"That kind of broke our spirits a little bit," said Commings, who leaves in June to play football at Georgia. "We battled back and scored some runs. But they just never go away."

Lovett scored in each of the first three innings to take an 8-4 lead. The Lions got a little help when Westside made a pair of errors in the first two innings that led to three runs

Nonetheless, Lovett collected 12 hits in the game and 25 in the series. Catcher Brian Erickson went 4-for-4, while left fielder Johnny Topping, the ninth batter in the order, homered for the second day in a row. He went 4-for-6 in the two games.

"We ran up against a team with a little more depth than we had," Hall said. "But we played hard all the way through."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or