LAFAYETTE — Down in a 0-3 hole in subregion play after a sweep at the hands of Heritage a week ago, the LaFayette Ramblers were already looking at what could be considered “must-win” games against Southeast Whitfield this week if the Orange-and-Black still harbored thoughts of a post-season berth.
And while it was not the sweep they were hoping for, the Ramblers still managed to take two of three from the Raiders, including a 9-4 home victory on Friday night.
“It was big for us to get the win today,” head coach Mike Shank said. “Our region is pretty tight. There’s good games going on between all of the teams trying to get one of these playoff spots. Anytime we can pick up a win, it’s important.”
After a 9-8 comeback win on Tuesday, LaFayette gave one back with a 9-5 loss at Southeast on Thursday, but nine runs in the first two innings of Friday went a long way toward calming the Ramblers' nerves.
LaFayette (5-8, 2-4) scored five runs in the top of the first, taking advantage of four walks and two hit batsmen by three Southeast pitchers.
Micah Wyatt and Josh Manning ripped back-to-back RBI-singles to plate the first two runs. Brennan Gray and Harrison Queen collected RBIs on bases-loaded walks, and Evan Head was credited with an RBI after getting plunked with the bases loaded.
More trouble was in store for Southeast pitchers in the bottom of the second. Wyatt walked and eventually scored after swiping home on a double steal. Head and Clayton Lane added RBI-doubles, and Queen picked up his second RBI on a single.
Southeast (4-10, 1-5) got a run back in the third and two more in the fourth. They added one final run in the top of the seventh, but steady pitching by Josh Manning, Brandon Buck, and Gray were enough to carry the Ramblers to the win.
“We dropped a game (on Thursday) we probably should have had, but we had one bad inning and it bit us,” Shank explained. “Today, we were able to avoid (giving up) that one big inning and we had a couple of big innings of our own early, which kind of silenced them.
“We got a game back on Tuesday, coming back from five runs down going into the seventh (inning) before winning it in the eighth. That was kind of a turning point for us this week to get the bats going.”
LaFayette will start a huge series with Dalton on Tuesday. Game 1 is slated to begin at 5:55 p.m. in south Walker County, and with just three three-game series remaining in the regular season, the Ramblers know that every win is crucial from here on out.
“We know Dalton will give us a tough series,” Shank added. “They’ve got some excellent pitchers and they hit the ball well. We’ll have our hands full next week.”