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Varner’s performance lifts Lafayette past New Hope in 5A baseball playoffs

Lafayette entered Saturday’s game against New Hope, looking to bounce back after dropping a heart breaker late to the Trojans on Friday.

A win would allow the Commodores to survive and advance while a loss would end their season. Enter Wilson Varner, who was dominant in Lafayette’s 4-0 win over New Hope at W.V. Brewer Field in the deciding third game of the best-of-three series.

Varner worked seven innings, giving up zero runs on five hits while striking out six New Hope batters and issuing one walk.

“Wilson Varner is really good. I mean really good. They did not have many answers for him today,” said Lafayette head coach John Walker. “They hit some balls that found some holes, but the Trojans could not hit him hard consistently.”

The Commodores offense collected six hits on the day. Blake Loper led the way with two hits. Elijah Thompson, Everett Thompson, Radley Hill, and Cooper Mitze each added a hit in the game. They got on the board the second inning when Carter Newman hit into a fielder’s choice to score Loper, who singled earlier in the inning.

Lafayette would add a run in the fifth inning when Mitze scored on a passed ball. The Commodores would add two more insurance runs in the sixth inning with first coming when Loper scored on an error by the Trojans second baseman on the groundball by Mitze. The second Commodore run of the inning came when Elijah Thompson walked, scoring Noah Robinson.

The defense was strong for the Commodores, Saturday. They turned two double plays during the game, and Elijah Thompson ended the game on a 6-3 double play to Loper to seal the win for Lafayette.

Lafayette turnaround and played the winner-take-all game 12 hours after getting home from Columbus following Friday’s extra-inning loss to the Trojans in Game 2 of the series.

“Our defense played great today. The offense missed some opportunities and should have put the game out of reach early, but credit to our guys,” Walker said. “You get in at 1 a.m. after playing a nine-inning game and getting walked off on. It was tough, but for our young bunch to come in focused and play the way they did today was special and fun to watch.”

Lafayette advances to next week’s third round where they will play the winner between Ridgeland and Cleveland Central, starting on Thursday. The Commodores will be the home team and host games one and three if Cleveland Central wins, but they will travel for two of the three games if they take on Ridgeland.