Dave Patel picked up the complete game win, allowing three runs off of seven hits. He struck out nine and walked none.
“Dave pitched an excellent game and really located his pitches well,” said LSHS coach John Fulkerson. “The think I am most proud of tonight though is the team’s hustle. They ran down the line and converged on every ball that was hit.”
Lithia scored in the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead. Dalton Carroll led off the bottom of the first with a walk and stole second. After back-to-back popouts, Alec Hopkins hit a grounder to short that was misplayed by the shortstop, allowing Carroll to score an unearned run.
New Manchester’s Austin Bell reached on a bloop hit in the top of the second inning but was stranded at first as Lithia Pitcher Dave Patel struck out the side.
The Lions took advantage of two Jaguar errors in the bottom of the second to go up 3-0. Garrett Voyles reached on a throwing error by the shortstop and Dillon Sims made it on a throwing error by the pitcher to put runners on first and third. With two outs, Tre Baldwin grounded out to second, scoring Voyles. Carroll then singled to center, scoring courtesy runner AJ Reed.
Lithia added a fourth run in the third when Justin Fehr and Voyles reached on back-to-back singles, advanced a base on a wild pitch and then Sims hit a sacrifice fly to center.
New Manchester scored a run in the top of the fourth. Tyler Smith reached on an infield single and stole second. He advanced to third when Sam Wiggins reached on an error by the third baseman. Wiggins was caught off second by Patel and during the run down, Smith scored from third making it a 4-1 game.
Lithia threatened with runners on first and third and one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, but a third to first double play Cliff Cochran ended the inning. Ant Kempson competed the DP with a scoop at first.
The Lions added their final two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Carroll led off with a single to right and stole second. Hopkins beat out an infield single up the middle and then Morris Ellison put a little pop into his swing, sending a ball into the right-center gap, scoring both runners. It was the first and only extra base hit of the game.
New Manchester made the game interesting in the top of the seventh inning, pushing two runs across the plate. Tristen Echols led off the inning with an infield single and was courtesy run for by Jalen Malone. Kempson beat on an infield single to first and with one out, Austin Bell hit a bloop single to right, scoring Malone. Brandon Worthington reached on an error by the second baseman, allowing Kempson to score. Patel managed to get the next two batters out to end the inning and the game.
“We fell a little too short and that has been the story the last couple of games,” said NMHS coach Chuck Walker. “We made some errors early and fell behind, tried to make a rally but we are still young and haven’t learned how to win.”
Smith picked up the loss for the Jags. He threw six innings and allowed five earned runs hits, walked two and struck out one.
Lithia will go back to work Friday on the road at Woodland in Bartow County. New Manchester will host Hiram. Both games will start at 5:55 p.m.