As the massive storm cleanup continued less than 10 miles away, some Catoosa County residents got a break from the misery of the past two days as Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe hosted Region 7-AA foe Coosa in a doubleheader start to a best-of-three region tournament series Friday.
The visiting Eagles, though, put a damper on the evening by rallying twice to sweep the series, 13-9 and 8-7 in eight innings, and advance into next week's Class AA state playoffs.
Game one was a harbinger of things to come for the Warriors, who were cruising up 9-4 entering the fifth inning only to see the Eagles score three runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and four in the seventh. Adding salt to the wound were three LFO errors, five walks and a hit batter. Only three of the final nine Coosa runs were earned.
"When you're up 9-4 - and this has been our problem all year in that we get leads on decent teams and can't hold on - you should win those games," LFO coach Tony Ellis said. "We shot ourselves in the foot in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
"This team has never quit playing hard, but some of the guys haven't bought into the little things you need to do to win a baseball game, and in close games those things will bite you."
Levi Scudgins blasted a three-run homer in the first inning and Matt Culberson went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored over the first four innings as the Warriors built their five-run lead. However, the miscues and homers by Coosa's Blane Swift and Dylan Simmons accounted for three runs, with Simmons' sixth-inning homer tying the game.
An error, sacrifice bunt, two walks and Mason Hamilton's sacrifice fly gave Coosa the lead, and Zac Hale's ensuing bases-loaded double brought in three insurance runs. Swift earned the win in relief, working through two Coosa errors and two walks to keep the Warriors scoreless over the final three innings.
The Warriors (12-12-1) rallied from a 6-5 deficit in the second game with two runs in the top of the seventh inning on Dylan Culver's one-out double. Again, though, LFO couldn't hold the lead when a failed attempt on a potential double-play grounder and a throwing error allowed Coosa to tie it.
The Eagles (15-8) won in the eighth on Hamilton's RBI single just over the glove of third baseman Culver.
Culver had two hits, including a homer, and drove in three in the nightcap. Swift had four hits, also including a homer, and drove in four for the Eagles.
Though the games had been lost, LFO's Ellis saw the significance of getting back to the ballyard.
"Getting back to normal, I guess," he summarized. "We needed to play. It had been delayed and they were talking about delaying it again. It was nice to get out here and play a game."