Region champion Mountain View baseball upset by Lassiter in first round

LAWRENCEVILLE — Two Lassiter left-handers put an end to Mountain View's breakout baseball season Friday night.

The Trojans' Tim Eber and Nate Dupree, along with two short relief efforts by Taylor Buice, held the Region 7-AAAAAA champions scoreless over 14 innings in the Class AAAAAA first-round series, sweeping Mountain View 1-0 and 5-0.

The Bears' miscues led to an unearned run in the opener, which made ace A.J. Moore a tough-luck loser, and they made three more costly errors in the second game. They couldn't make up for the defensive issues because the Lassiter lefties held them to nine hits over the two games.

It was the first-ever playoff appearance for Mountain View.

"That's a good team over there," Mountain View head coach Jason Johnson said of Lassiter. "Those pitchers did a great job against us. We had a number of opportunities. We needed a big hit here or there and we just couldn't get it. Uncharacteristically, we kicked the ball around a little bit and made some errors.

"I guess that's what happens when you get in the dance for the first time. I didn't really think the pressure got us, but maybe trying to do a little too much."

Though they didn't get a lot of hits, the Bears (22-6) had their share of baserunners all night. They had a runner on in six of the seven innings in each game, drawing seven walks and getting hit by a pitch three times.

The trouble started early in Game 1 as Lassiter (13-15) scratched out an unearned run off Moore, who suffered his first loss to fall to 7-1. The senior right-hander got two outs and then recorded a strikeout, but the ball was in the dirt and got away. That allowed Lassiter's Nick Esposito to reach first base instead of being the third out of a 1-2-3 inning, changing the course of the inning and of Game 1.

Esposito moved over on a stolen base and a passed ball, then scored on an error as Moore endured an unnecessarily long 29-pitch inning. He was fine from there, striking out eight in a three-hitter.

But the damage was done because the Mountain View offense managed just four hits, two from Cameron Hankins. The hosts stranded nine runners in Game 1.

"A.J. did a great job, one unearned run," Johnson said. "He's done it all season."

Lassiter got out of fifth- and sixth-inning jams to hold on in the opener. With two runners on in the fifth and one out, Mountain View's Luis Vilchez hit a liner that was caught by the right fielder, who turned a double play because the Bear runners were going on the play.

The Bears put two runners on in the sixth inning, but Buice entered and induced two straight groundouts to end the threat.

The first inning was costly in the nightcap, too.

After Mountain View couldn't capitalize on Josh Logan's leadoff double in the top of the first, Lassiter's Grant Berry ripped the first pitch from Matt Hubbard (5-1) for a solo home run. John Melson followed with a single and then the Bears' defense fell apart on Esposito's infield single. A pair of errors on the play allowed the second run to score. A suicide squeeze bunt later in the inning made it 3-0.

Mountain View had good chances in the fourth and sixth innings, the first ending on a pop-up in foul territory with two runners aboard. In the sixth, the Bears loaded the bases with two outs before a flyout ended the inning.

Lassiter added single runs in the fifth and sixth, its fifth run coming on another Mountain View error.

It was a tough evening for a Mountain View team that won the school's first region championship. It graduates six seniors who laid the foundation for what the coaching staff hopes will be continued success.

"It's just one of those things," Johnson said. "It's going to be a learning experience for us. The only positive is we've got so many young players coming back. It's an exciting time for Mountain View baseball. These guys put us on the map. Hopefully this will be a learning experience those guys can bring back with them next year."