Run ends for Athens majors in sectional final
ATHENS - The bases were loaded, two outs in the final inning and Athens cleanup hitter Luke Newman was at the plate.
It was the exact situation Athens wanted, but in the end, it wasn't meant to be.
South Columbia's Julian Fleming got Newman to ground out to end the game, the second time in the game Athens left the bases loaded, as South held on for a 4-3 victory.
Athens was playing from behind the entire game in this one. Leadoff hitter Matt Grozier got South Columbia on the board early with a home run and Garrett Barilar and Fleming each scored in that first inning as Athens fell behind 3-0 in the first inning.
On the mound Barilar kept Athens in check early.
Gavin Stein had a one-out single in the first inning and Joe Horn had a one-out single in the second inning, but those were Athens' only hits the first three innings.
In the fourth inning, Athens got things started as Newman led off with a single.
With one out, Horn hit into a fielder's choice, leaving him at first and Newman out. Nate Kennedy and Braden Priester both followed with singles to load the bases for Athens, but Barilar got a strikeout to get out of the jam.
Athens got into some trouble in the bottom half of the fourth as South Columbia got a leadoff single and a walk and an error moved him around, but the inning ended as Priester made a strong throw from the outfield to Daniel Joyce behind the plate to get the out and get out of the inning.
In the fifth inning, Cory Stivason and Stein started things off with singles. They moved to second and third with one out. Barilar got the second out of the inning, before Cody Jennings deliver a two-run single to cut the deficit to one. Jennings moved to third on the throws, however, he was stranded there leaving South Columbia with a lead heading into the bottom of the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth Barilar led off with a double, and with one out Devin Stupt hit a sacrifice fly to give South Columbia a 4-2 advantage.
Down to their last inning, Athens refused to quit.
Nate Bradley was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Priester hit a fielder's choice to second, but the second baseman couldn't control the ball, leaving both runners safe.
Joyce followed with a sacrifice bunt, but South Columbia's first baseman couldn't hold onto the ball, leaving the bases loaded with no outs.
South Columbia got a fielder's choice, getting the lead runner at home and then after a strikeout, Marc Felt came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded.
Felt hit a ground ball, and he beat out the throw to first for a hit, allowing Priester to score and setting up Newman with the bases loaded.
Newman worked his way to a 3-1 count, before Fleming induced the ground ball to end the game.
Felt and Stein pitched on the day for Athens, combining to strike out six and Barilar, Ky Seeshplez and Fleming all pitched for South Columbia, striking out six.
Stivason had a hit and scored a run for Athens and Stein had two hits and scored a run.
Felt had a hit and an RBI and Newman had a hit. Jennings had a hit and two RBI and Horn had a hit. Kennedy had a hit and Priester had two hits and scored a run in the game.