Austin Childers wants the ball today, just like he did with his team’s season on the line.
Whether Childers or David Hagelston starts today’s deciding Game 3 Class AA quarterfinal matchup between Lovett and Westside will be up to coach Gerald Barnes. Childers, a junior right-hander, planned to be prepared either way.
“I’m going to go home, ice up and take a lot of ibuprofen,” Childers said after going the distance in the Patriots’ 6-3 win in Tuesday’s nightcap.
“I’m ready to go again.”
Westside (23-8) saved its season with a gutty Game 2 performance after getting rocked by the Lions, 11-0, in the opener. Lefty Mitch Stallings dominated the Patriots, striking out nine batters in his five-inning, no-hitter.
Lovett (24-8), the Atlanta private school that won state titles in 2006 and 2009, took control from the outset. The Lions plated three runs in the first inning of the opener on three Westside errors and never looked back.
Before the second game, Childers, whose father, Terry, played catcher for Barnes on Westside’s two state title teams in the late 1980s, tried to keep his teammates’ spirits high.
“I told the team we’re going to win,” he said. “I told them to keep their heads up.”
In the second game, Westside loaded the bases with no outs in the third. Then, Mason Dodd grounded a tailor-made double play ball to second baseman Tyler Shiflett, who had trouble getting it out of his glove.
Shiflett’s throw to second sailed wide of the bag into left field. Ryan Midla, Jalen Lampkin and Chandler Silas all came around to score on the error. Dodd scored on his brother Price Dodd’s chopper to third. Westside took a 4-0 lead.
With his defense coming up big time and again – including a Lampkin diving catch to end the fourth – Childers stranded six runners the final four innings to preserve the win and keep the Patriots alive.
“The second game is always the toughest game, because the team that lost Game 1 is facing elimination,” Barnes said. “Now it’ll be the same pressure on both of us tomorrow.”