Lanier’s Kristoff Rietig (24) celebrates with Matthew Ramsay (14) after Rietig scores a run during the second inning in Wednesday’s Class AAAA second-round playoff game at Lanier. (Photo: Kyle Hess)
SUGAR HILL — It may be uncharted territory going this deep into postseason play for the Lanier baseball team, but the Longhorns sure seem to know their way around pretty well.
Lanier, hosting a playoff series for the first time in its young school history, rolled up a 12-1, 5-2 doubleheader sweep of LaGrange in the Class AAAA baseball state tournament second round on Wednesday.
With the pair of wins, Lanier (22-9) moves into the quarterfinals next Tuesday and will travel to face Veterans, which swept Cross Creek in a pair of 5-4 wins.
“Anytime you can jump out of the gate and carry that momentum, it really helps,” said Lanier head coach Chad Longe. “We got off to a fast start in the first game and played well. But in the playoffs, you have to share being the home team in the second game (of the doubleheader) even though it’s our home field. So even though we actually got behind in the second game, our guys have that confidence right now to come back.”
Lanier wasted no time jumping on LaGrange in Game 1 as the Longhorns put two runs on the scoreboard in the first inning.
T.J. Richardson delivered an RBI single to score Cam Coursey and then Matthew Ramsay (2-for-3, three RBIs) followed with a single to chase home Thomas Johnston, who was in the game as a courtesy runner for Richardson.
LaGrange put a single run up in the second to cut the Lanier lead to 2-1, but a pair of five-run innings in the second and third put this game away for the Longhorns.
Coursey (2-for-4, 3 runs, RBI) had an RBI double to get Kristoff Rietig (3-for-3, 2 runs) in and Chandler Burrow added a run-scoring single to get Marcus Millhouse II home to increase the Lanier lead to 4-1.
Richardson (2-for-2, five RBIs, two runs, walk) followed with a three-run homer to send Coursey and Burrow in as the Longhorns went ahead 7-1 after two innings.
In the third, Ramsay’s two-run single along with a pair of bases-loaded walks and a wild pitch generated Lanier’s second five-run frame and a 12-1 advantage.
From there, starting pitcher Kam Doster kept LaGrange at bay as the right-hander allowed just seven base runners and the lone second-inning run in five innings of work.
Doster (5-3) struck out five and allowed just four hits while walking one and hitting a batter in the winning effort.
In Game 2, LaGrange (14-16) actually took a 1-0 in the first inning on a Caleb Buchanan RBI double to score Logan Moody.
But Lanier came right back and put up a three spot in the second inning to take a 3-1 lead.
Burrow delivered a two-out run-scoring single to score Rietig and Bryan Gropp to put Lanier up 2-1.
Then Richardson scored Coursey with an RBI single to make it 3-1.
Lanier added single runs in the fourth and sixth to push the lead out to 5-1 – thanks to Ramsay’s RBI single that scored Johnston in the fourth and Coursey’s double that also got Johnston home in the sixth.
Coursey finished 3-for-4 (RBI, run) while Ramsay was 3-for-3 (RBI, walk) and Richardson was 2-for-4 (RBI) for the Longhorns.
LaGrange did get a run in the sixth to make it 5-2, but Lanier right-hander Tyler Tillman closed the deal for the Longhorns by getting out of the sixth with no further damage and then pitched a scoreless seventh.
Ramsay started and went four solid innings for Lanier to go to 6-4 on the season while Tillman got his fourth save with three innings of work.