LAWRENCEVILLE — Both games of Friday’s Class A Private baseball state championship series followed the same script for Wesleyan.
The Wolves failed to cash in on a bases loaded opportunity in the first inning, made some defensive miscues that led to runs and failed to push a run across against a dominant Mount Paran starting pitcher.
Wesleyan started the day riding a 25-game winning streak and seeking its first state championship since 2014, but ended it one step short of that goal with 4-0 and 3-0 losses to Mt. Paran at Coolray Field.
“It wasn’t for a lack of effort that we dropped these two games today,” Wesleyan head coach Brian Krehmeyer said. “Today just wasn’t our day. You have to give credit where credit is due. Mt. Paran came in as a very talented team. They had a great approach, and they executed about as well as they could have.”
Krehmeyer’s team had a golden opportunity to strike first in Game 1 when it loaded the bases with one out against Mt. Paran ace Luke Dotson. But the Florida State committed left-hander made his biggest pitch of the day, inducing a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Bryce Hubbard to retire the side.
Dotson did have some scattered traffic on the bases after the first inning, but the Wolves never got that close to scoring on him again. James McCoy was matching him pitch-for-pitch on the other side after some early troubles of his own; McCoy allowed four singles to the first eight Mt. Paran hitters before mowing down eight of the next nine batters.
The pitcher’s duel stayed deadlocked until the fifth when Cam Collier caught a break. The Mt. Paran third baseman hit what could have been a double play ball with a runner on first and one out, but all hands were safe after first baseman Joe Chatham bobbled the ball. Jake Tucker followed that up with an RBI single to center field that broke the scoreless tie, and Collier came around to score an unearned run on a Josh Fitzpatrick sacrifice fly later in the frame.
Collier was in the middle of the action again an inning later when he split the right-center field gap for a two-run triple that doubled the lead. Wesleyan finished game one with just two infield singles on offense and only hit three balls out of the infield in 26 plate appearances.
“The balls just didn’t fall when we hit them,” Krehmeyer concluded. “We hit a number of balls that would’ve been out of most high school fields that turned out to be flyouts here at Coolray.”
And while Dotson was masterful in Game 1, Collier took the ball in Game 2 and was even better.
The junior committed to Louisville fired a complete game four-hit shutout, striking out nine batters and retiring 16 out of 19 Wesleyan hitters during a stretch in the middle innings.
Like Dotson, his only trouble all night came when he loaded the bases in the first inning. But he struck out Luke Carroll to end the threat, and was in cruise control until the seventh.
“We just didn’t come through with the big hit,” Krehmeyer said. “You never know when those moments, those opportunities are going to present themselves. You’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves. You have to score the runs when you have the chance, particularly in big games.”
The Eagles got on the board early in Game 2, and once again it was thanks to a miscue on the right side of the infield. Fitzpatrick hit a chopper to the right side with runners on second and third with two outs. Pitcher Jimmy Cox went over to cover the base, but the throw to him was off target and allowed both Mt. Paran runners to score.
Those two runs were more than enough for Collier, and he got a third one to work with in the second inning when Wesleyan failed to field a bunt that ended up leading to an Alex Adams sacrifice fly.
Wesleyan would not push another runner into scoring position until the seventh inning when it loaded the bases against Collier for the top of the order. The Wolves had the go-ahead run at the plate in spite of everything, but Druw Jones grounded into a 5-2 double play and Jalen Fulwood struck out to end the series.
“It was a great experience,” Krehmeyer concluded. “My team and my program are better for having done it. We’re just grateful we had the opportunity to play in a state championship this season; we’re grateful that we had a season this year given all the hurdles and the challenges with getting high school sports off the ground.”