SIBLEY – Lakeside senior Jake Gray stomped out Mangham’s last-ditch effort to tie Saturday’s quarterfinal contest with back-to-back strikeouts on the mound, sending the Warriors into next weekend’s Top 28 in Sulphur.
Lakeside (29-10) finds itself back amongst Louisiana’s baseball elite after sweeping the series 2-0 from Mangham. It’s the thirteenth semifinal trip for the Warriors, who are vying for their fourth state championship appearance and third state title.
The Warriors cruised to a 7-0 victory Friday in game one behind Braydon Jones’ right arm and a platoon of errors committed by the Dragons.
Jones (7-3, 1.85 ERA) earned the win, going all seven innings, striking out five and allowing just four hits; Cameron Gray feasted on Mangham pitching, going 3-5 with two doubles and a RBI. Fellow senior Jake Gray was 2-5 with a double, single and 2 RBIs and Jayke Stewart finished 3-4 with three singles, driving in one run.
Saturday’s contest seemed destined for 10-run rule before Mangham tagged Lakeside for three runs in the fifth inning and four more in the sixth. Lakeside’s Colton Carter pitched the first four innings before giving way to Logan McIver who lasted 0.2 innings before handing the ball to Dalton Crumpler for one inning.
Eventually, the Warriors turned to Gray for the final 1.1 innings and the senior shut things down promptly, earning the save. Carter (8-3, 1.93 ERA) was the winning pitcher.
“There was the possibility of a third game coming up, so we didn’t want to use all our pitching too soon,” Warriors head coach Will Gray said. “Whenever we got in range, we decided it was time to bring in the senior and Jake stopped them in their tracks.”
A semifinal participant during his playing days for the Warriors, celebrated the program’s most noteworthy win in six years with the man who both raised and coached him, former Lakeside head coach Bob Gray.
Will says he hasn’t given a single shred of thought to what it will be like to take the field with both baby brother Jake and their father Bob this weekend, but says – while assuring he feels good about Lakeside’s chances – that no matter the results in Sulphur, he’s happy to have Warrior baseball back on the map.
“It will be something special,” Gray said. “We don’t think about it though. Each kid on this team is like a son to me. I love each one and we’re all a big family. It’s something I’ll probably think about more after the fact.”
The Warriors will meet Rosepine (22-11, District 3-2A) in the semifinals, Friday at 1 p.m. The Top 28 will be played at Sulphur’s McMurry Park.
As for fan support, Gray is already hearing from legions of loyal Lakeside fans pledging their attendance for the weekend.
“From what I’m hearing, there’s going to be a bunch,” Gray said. “It sounds like a pretty big turnout, and that’s good. But, even if we go down and get beat, I’m proud of our guys and I know everyone there will be too; nothing that happens down there can take away from the season that we’ve had.”