Lowndes baseball feels untouchable entering state finals

May 13—VALDOSTA — Breezing past South Forsyth in the quarterfinals, the Lowndes varsity baseball team was set to face its most formidable challenge yet in its run for the state championship. However, on Saturday, the Vikings dismantled North Paulding High School's Wolfpack in a 2-0 series win during the semifinals.

In the most attended game of the season, Viking fans made sure their last home games would be ones to remember. Lowndes had the home field advantage, with a wild student section and a vocal crowd.

The day's first game was quick, with an 11-0 Lowndes victory after the fifth inning. Noah Thigpen got the start for the Vikings, pitching a complete game. Thigpen allowed only three hits and threw three strikeouts.

Colin Loeffler started for the Wolfpack, pitching for an inning and an out. Loeffler gave up five hits and six runs for the Vikings in a rocky start. Caden Hewitt relieved Loeffler for the rest of the game, pitching five hits and two strikeouts, and had five more runs for Lowndes.

Thigpen started the onslaught early in the first inning with a single to right field, which scored two runs. A fielder's choice to shortstop from Jordan Hudson resulted in one run scored.

Carson Page put a double into centerfield in the second inning to secure two more runs. Immediately after, Coleman Lewis took the plate and bombed a homer to centerfield, putting two more runs on the board.

The crowd went wild, particularly the student section, who released confetti onto the field, much to the dismay of the coaches and officials. The Viking dugout quickly picked up the scattered celebration.

Lewis returned in the fourth inning with a double to centerfield, bringing in Tate Sirmans for another run. The game's final runs came in the fifth and final inning, starting with a groundout from Sirmans, which resulted in a run. Page ended game one with a fly ball to left field to score Cason Fletcher and Ashton Bohler.

In game two, the Vikings took over early, with North Paulding attempting a late-game comeback in the seventh. Ultimately, the Vikings took the game 8-5 to close the series and advance to the state finals.

Matthew Kerrigan started game two, pitching for five innings with only one run to the Wolfpack. Kerrigan gave out two freebies, five hits, and threw three strikeouts. Ty Macera took over for Kerrigan in the sixth, giving out a hit and striking out two. Bohler took over the seventh inning with four Wolfpack runs. Bohler pitched five hits, one freebie, and had two strikeouts.

A groundout from Thigpen resulted in the game's first run, scoring Sirmans. In the second, Bohler's single to center field brought home another run. Thigpen smashed a homer to left field to secure another run in the third inning, continuing the trend of one-off runs.

Breaking the streak and bringing in three runs, Sirmans put up a homer of his own to centerfield in the fourth to score Fletcher and Bohler. North Paulding answered back with their first run of the game, with a single from Hayden Miller to left field scoring a run.

The Vikings scored two runs in the sixth inning off the pitcher. A walk on loaded bases scored Fletcher, and a hit by pitch would score Bohler. The Wolfpack attempted a comeback in the seventh inning, scoring four runs.

A sacrifice fly from Cayden Sheffield and a single from Jonathon Croxton scored two runs. The final two runs would be off the bat of Victor Junco with a single to center field, scoring two.

The Vikings confidently move on to the state finals, where they will play at the Gwinnett Stripers Coolray Field on Friday, May 17th. Their opponent will be a Gwinnett team — Grayson or Brookwood. The two split Saturday games.