Live by the late-game heroics, die by the late-game heroics.
Athens Drive plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday to break a 4-4 tie and turn the table on Garner in a 6-4 nonconference victory.
The Trojans (3-1) capitalized on final at-bat rallies in two of its three wins this season but fell on the opposite end Wednesday.
“The first couple games we got lucky on a couple of things. Today we just played bad baseball,” Garner coach Derik Goffena said. “Couldn’t get bunts down, lot of base-running mistakes.
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“If you don’t do the fundamentals, you’re not going to win a whole lot.”
The Jaguars (1-3) loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth and Patrick Graham came up with the clutch hit, lining a single to leftfield to score the go-ahead runs.
Entering Wednesday, 12 of the Trojans’ 20 runs had come in the sixth and seventh innings but Garner went 0-for-6 at the plate over the final two innings against Athens Drive.
“They had some big hits with two outs. That was the difference in the game. We left a lot of guys on and they had some two-out hits,” Goffena said.
Garner collected just three hits on the afternoon, failing to take advantage of nine free passes issued by Jaguars pitchers. The Trojans were picked off the base paths three times and in the fourth inning scored just one run after loading the bases with one out.
“We just had a really bad day at the plate,” Goffena said. “No excuses.”
Tyler Marshburn stroked a run-scoring single in the top of the first for Garner. In the third, Patrick Mason and Justin Reynolds hit back-to-back doubles to drive home three runs for Athens Drive.
Garner answered right back in the top of the fourth when Jaguars starter Mike McAlister walked five straight Trojan batters to force home two runs and Aquail Sanders’ sacrifice fly tied the game at 4.
Marshburn doubled off the fence in left with two outs in the fifth but was left stranded. C.J. Schmitt lead off the sixth by being hit by a pitch and took second on a wild pitch but was stranded in scoring position with nobody out.
Marshburn finished 2-for-2 at the plate and pitched the first four innings for Garner. The runs scored by the Jaguars in the third ended a streak of over eight scoreless innings for Marshburn.
Jake Ellington took the loss in relief for Garner after Alec Hulmes came on to pitch with two outs in the sixth and inherited Ellington’s runners. Graham, the first batter to face Hulmes, was 0-for-3 on the day before getting the game-winning hit.
“Sitting at 3-1 right now is great,” Goffena said. “Obviously you don’t want to lose any but we played terrible and we had every chance to win this game.”