Watching it slip away

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2005

Lowndes Academy had everything going in their favor at the start of the AISA Class A state championship game Friday night.

The Rebels were unbeaten in the Final Four tournament and were basically in the driver’s seat. Their opponents from Shelby Academy were the opposite.

The Raiders were humbled in their opening game, falling to Southern 13-4. The Raiders answered their loss with a pair of wins. First, by knocking out Crenshaw Christian in the first elimination game, and then sending Southern home in the elimination final.

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That win propelled the upstart program into a collision with the Rebels.

The result of the match-up was a shock to everyone wearing red and white.

Shelby swept Lowndes in back-to-back games to win their first AISA State Championship.

In the first game of what turned out to a best-of-three series, Lowndes jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Bradley Adams scored.

That lead stood tall through four innings.

Things turned green in the top of the fifth inning.

Tournament MVP Jake Ingram roped a double to the outfield scoring Colby Green and tying the game at 1-1. The Raiders weren’t done there.

Kevin Lackey roped a single to medium outfield that pushed Jason Stokes to third and pushed a runner across the dish, putting the Raiders on top, 2-1.

Josh Kervin doubled to clear the bases and push the green-clad upstarts to a 4-1 lead.

Lowndes was never able to get back into the game.

Shelby put the finishing touches on their opponents with a three-run sixth inning.

The Rebels weren’t able to answer the margin, falling to Shelby Academy in the first game.

The loss forced a game two, this one was for all the marbles so to speak with both teams having a loss.

The second game looked like it was going to pick up where it’s predecessor had ended, but as Shelby quickly put runners on base with two outs, but a popfly to second ended the potential rally.

Lowndes continued to struggle as the first two batters lifted pop-ups to leftfield and to second base. Bradley Adams drew a walk and was scored on a triple by senior Whit Lane.

Caylan Conway bangs out a double and scores Adams and Lane to give the Rebels an early 2-0 lead.

Their momentum continued in the bottom half of the second frame. Jon Kreder doubled to the gap in the outfield and scored Adam Sawicki and Adams, pushing the Rebs further ahead 4-0.

Things went south quickly for the Rebels.

Shelby posted a single run in the bottom of the third inning, cutting the defecit to three runs before exploding for an eight-run fourth.

Kervin rips his first double of the night, scoring Lackey and Stokes and cutting the lead to a run. The offensive flurry continued with Cody Wright scoring Josh Sharp and Colby Green. Marcus Jones, Ingram and Stokes were pushed home on a triple by Kervin. At the end of the fourth inning, the momentum had clearly shifted in favor of the Raiders as they jumped ahead 10-4.

That inning put the game out of reach for the Rebels. Shelby however, tacked on a handful of security runs in the top of sixth with a six-run rally and then finished the scoring in the seventh with a run, 17-4.

Lowndes, who’s bats had been relatively quiet for a duration of the game, found their stroke and produced a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh, but that effort was still not enough to overtake the 11-run lead held by the Raiders.

When the final out was made on a strikeout, the Raiders had secured their first state championship and a 17-6 victory.

Despite the Rebs loss, they do return some promising athletes next season.

In 2006, the Rebs will have a majority of this years state runners-up back.