If any one theme has started to emerge from the first two weeks of Region 6-AAAA play, it’s that the regular season title and the other three state playoff berths from the region appear to be up for grabs.
And after this past week, you can count the LaFayette Ramblers in as a possible contender.
The young Ramblers took 2-of-3 from Southeast Whitfield and currently sit at 2-1 in the region standings headed into the new week. Their two region wins is just one region victory less than they had in all of 2016.
LaFayette is in second place in the standings, one game in the loss column ahead of both Heritage (4-2) and Northwest Whitfield (4-2) and one game back of red-hot Pickens (3-0), winners of eight straight overall.
Pickens and LaFayette are the only two teams in the region that have already had their bye week as far as region games go.
Head coach Mike Shank said that while it’s nice to see his team’s name so high up in the standings, he knows his team “still has a long way to go”.
“Defensively, we’ve got to play better because that’s been our Achilles heel all season long.” he said. “We’ve got to start to make more plays defensively. When we do make them, it helps our pitching, which has been good, and while our hitting hasn’t been outstanding, we have had some timely hits.”
LaFayette 2, Southeast 1
The Ramblers opened the region portion of the schedule this past Thursday and did so successfully with a home win.
The Raiders took the lead with a run in the top of the second, but a two-run single by Jack Martin in the bottom half of the inning would put the Ramblers in front and Ty Fisher would make sure the lead would hold up.
Fisher went the distance, scattering five hits and striking out three, while the run he gave up was unearned.
Brady Anderson and Chase Smith each had doubles in the win, while Blake Guffey and Ethan Stephenson both singled for the Ramblers.
Southeast 5, LaFayette 0
A couple of defensive lapses were the culprits in Game 1 of a doubleheader in Dalton on Friday as the Raiders held the Ramblers to just three hits.
Chase Elliott had a double and Stephenson was saddled with the loss. The sophomore threw 5.2 innings and allowed just two earned runs on eight hits with two walks. He struck out seven.
LaFayette 3, Southeast 0
Friday’s nightcap featured an outstanding pitching performance by Logan Teasley as the Ramblers earned the twinbill split.
Teasley went the distance on a five-hit shutout. He walked just one batter and collected eight strikeouts.
A.J Buck had a two-run single in the top of the third and pinch runner Colton Lane beat out a throw home on a groundball toward second base in the seventh to give the Ramblers the extra insurance.
Blake Guffey paced the offense with a pair of hits.
“(Being 2-1 in region play) gives us some confidence, but we know we’ve still got to get in there and battle,” Shank added. “We can’t be content. We have to keep working to get better because this is still a young team.”
LaFayette (7-8 overall) is slated to open a three-game series with Gilmer (7-8, 2-4) on Tuesday in Ellijay.