Lafayette baseball defeats New Hope in 5A playoff opener

Published 11:01 am Friday, May 7, 2021

Lafayette entered Thursday looking to capitalize and take the opening game of the three-game second round series against New Hope in the Class 5A playoffs.

The Commodores took advantage of New Hope pitching, aided by a complete game from Blake Loper for the 10-3 victory over the Trojans at W.V. Brewer Field. Lafayette grabbed the all-important 1-0 lead heading into the weekend.

Lafayette had chances in the first couple of innings to take advantage of New Hope’s mistakes but were unable to with runners in scoring position.

In the top of the third, the Trojans hit a leadoff single and played small ball to take an early 1-0 lead before a bases-clearing double made it 3-0.

“Give them credit; they put together a great inning by dropping down some perfect bunts, and we helped them with some errors and losing a ball, but I am proud of how we bounced backed,” said Lafayette head coach John Walker.

In the bottom of the third inning, Lafayette scored their first runs after Washington State baseball commit Tyrus Williams hit an RBI single to knock in Will Dabney and Itawamba Community College commit Taylor Tarver hit an RBI-double to score Williams two pitches later.

The Commodores would score two more to take the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth inning. After two outs in the inning, Dabney hit a triple down the line, and Elijah Thompson walked, leading to a two-RBI single by Williams.

“We struggled early to get some two-out hits with runners in scoring position, but we were able to scratch some runs here and there, then take advantage of New hope not throwing strikes, and was able to seal the game,” Walker said.

Lafayette used a six-run bottom of the fifth inning to help secure the first game of the series. They did not record a single hit in the inning but reached on base by three walks, three consecutive hit by pitches, and one error. The New Hope error was on a dropped fly ball hit deep by Tarver.

The Commodores were led defensively Loper’s performance. The Northwest Community College commit worked seven innings, giving up two earned runs off three hits, while striking out seven New Hope batters and issuing three walks on 95 pitches.

“Blake Loper, man, that is the Blake Loper who we have come to know and love,” Walker said. “Usually, he is a slow starter, but he came out strong and finished strong tonight. I am proud of the way he and the team played.”

Lafayette will return to action Friday night as the series moves to Columbus for Game 2 with a first pitch set for 7 p.m. A win by the Commodores clinches the series, sending them to the third round where they will play the winner of Ridgeland and Cleveland Central. A New Hope win on Friday sends the series back to Lafayette on Saturday for the deciding Game 3.

Check back at oxfordeagle.com for a recap of Friday’s game.