Lafayette clinches Region 2-5A title with doubleheader victory over Cleveland Central

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Lafayette baseball clinched their fourth consecutive district championship on Monday with a doubleheader victory over Cleveland Central that pushed them to 7-0 in region play and 14-7-1 overall. 

The Commodores eked out a victory in the first game behind a stellar performance on the mound from senior pitcher Radley Hill. 

The southpaw surrendered one unearned run across seven innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out five. 

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Lafayette fell behind in the early goings after Cleveland Central scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball in the third, but catcher Carter Newman answered in the bottom of the inning with a single to left that allowed Everett Thompson to score from second. 

The Commodores took their first lead of the game in the fifth when third baseman Brody Breithaupt blasted a solo home run over the wall in left to give them a narrow 2-1 advantage. 

They added two more in the inning as another run scored on a passed ball before an RBI single from second baseman Houston Morgan pushed the lead to 4-1. 

The ‘Dores added an insurance run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Trevor Dickerson before Hill retired the side in order in the seventh to clinch the victory. 

The offense continued to roll in the second game as Lafayette plated two runs in the first and four in the third to open up a 6-0 advantage. 

Needing four runs in the fifth to secure a run-rule victory, the Commodores rattled off three straight hits before back-to-back walks made it 8-0 with nobody out. 

A sacrifice fly from Swayze Rikard pushed the lead to 9-0 before Cleveland Central’s Christian McKinney balked in the winning run from third to give the ‘Dores a walk-off victory. 

The offensive explosion was a much-needed breakthrough for a Commodore team that has struggled to string together hits and advance runners once they reach base. 

Head coach John Walker said part of that was due to an incredibly difficult stretch of the schedule Lafayette went through in March. 

“For a stretch there were only a handful of games where we didn’t see a 90-plus arm and it’s hard to get bats going against those types of arms… I mean we saw college arm after college arm for weeks and it wore on us a little bit,” he said. 

The ‘Dores clinched the Region 2-5A championship with the victory, but they still have a long way to go if they want to make it back to the state championship game for the first time since 2019. 

Lafayette is still trying to find the winning combination of lineup pieces, and Walker expressed concerns that they may be running out of time to find the right lineup with the regular season winding down. 

“I think we’ve got a good offense, I think we have the pieces to have a long, deep lineup, it just hasn’t clicked,” he said. “We’re still trying to find the secret lineup or magic potion that will click and be the one that we go with but — you know we say we got time but it’s getting closer to the end and getting close to games in the postseason that will determine our year so we have to find our guys.” 

The Commodores have three more games to tune up the lineup before playing a makeup game with Lake Cormorant on April 18 to close out the regular season.