0

Lockhart leads Lions to Elite 8

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

DACULA -- Hebron's baseball team qualified for the Elite Eight for the first time in school history and its best hitter Danny Lockhart broke the state's record for most hits in a career.

But there was not exactly a big celebration for the Lions' 11-1, 9-2 sweep of Holy Innocents' on Wednesday afternoon.

Hebron's cleanup hitter and unbeaten starting pitcher Jordan Hillyer left Game 2 with a hamstring injury. The junior, who also plays third base, came up lame while rounding first base on his second double of Game 2. He had to be carted off the field.

"We will just kind of wait and see," said Hebron head coach Heath Kennedy. "He's obviously one of our main guys."

Hillyer was 4-for-5 with three runs scored in the double header. He also pitched all six innings in the Game 1 rout. The right-hander struck out seven and gave up two hits to improve his record to 7-0. Coming into the game, Hillyer had allowed six hits all season.

"He's been pretty dominant all year long," Kennedy said. "He's got a future. They are one of the better hitting teams in the state and he shut them down."

But once the worry about the ace subsides, Hebron's players will be able to reflect a little more on what was accomplished on this hot May afternoon. They will play in the Class A quarterfinals for the first time Tuesday.

"It's big," Kennedy said. "We got some good talent here. We've won about 75-80 games in the last four years. It's a testament to these guys buying into the program and a big accomplishment for our school."

Hebron (27-3, No. 1 Region 8) will play either Darlington or back-to-back Class A state champ Wesleyan. Whoever they face will also have to deal with the Lions' No. 3 hitter, who now has more hits than anyone ever has in the state of Georgia.

Lockhart ripped a single to left field in Game 1 for his 211th career hit. That ball will go in his trophy case.

"It's definitely something that I'll look back when I'm older and think it's pretty cool," Lockhart said. "I don't know how long it will stand, but it's good to have it right now."

In each game, the senior shortstop was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

"He just hits," said Kennedy. "He's just been a good hitter his whole career."

Most of the Lions were good hitters Wednesday. They knocked around 25 hits in the two games against the Bears (17-15). Everyone got a hit in the second game, while eight players had safeties in the first. P.J. Westbury went 4-for-6 with a solo homer in Game 2. No. 8 hitter Lew Stephens was 4-for-8 with three RBIs. Three of the hits came in the second game.

Hebron's also showed off its other strength --deep pitching. Hillyer was dealing in Game 1 and lefty Mason Felt was just as sharp in Game 2. He pitched a complete game, allowing six hits and one earned run to go with 10 strike outs.

The Lions will now get six days to rest and wait for the doctor's verdict on the cleanup man.

"He's been my best friend for years," Lockhart said. "It was tough watching him go down. We still got the pitching and the hitting. It's not a one man show. We live as a team and die as a team."