March 15, 2014
Lindley slides home to give GPC a big win
It was the 18th inning of the afternoon. Middle Georgia College had beaten the Jaguars 7-6 in the 10-inning first game, three extra innings. Georgia Perimeter College needed a win in the nightcap to stay atop the conference standings.
After GPC overcame a 5-0 first-inning deficit, the score was tied 6-6 going into the eighth, another extra inning. Reliever Dylan Williams retired the Knights in the top half of the frame. Everybody in the stadium was getting a little weary. How long would this one go on?
Then Lindley came home.
London Lindley hit a one-out single up the middle. The ball rolled through the center fielder’s legs, and Lindley imitated NASCAR circling the bases.
Barely ahead of a good relay throw, he slid headfirst safely at home, and Jaguar Field on GPC’s Newton Campus exploded in the joy of a 7-6 victory and the agony of an unsettling defeat.
“I'm very proud of how the guys responded,” said GPC head coach Brett Campbell. “After a tough loss in extra innings and giving up a five-spot in the first inning of the second game, most teams would have packed it in. But this team has some toughness, and they play hard. That's what makes teams special.”
With the split by identical extra-inning scores, GPC remains alone at the top of the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association standings with a 7-1 league record, 18-8 on the season.
Middle Georgia (16-6, 5-3 GCAA), ranked No. 14 in the NJCAA poll, slips into a third-place tie with South Georgia State, a game behind second-place Darton State and Gordon State, each 6-2 in the conference.
The Knights quickly racked up five runs in the first inning of the nightcap, spurred by two-run single by Andrew Stroud, who had troubled the Jags throughout the four-game series. Drew Taylor and Ryan Lawless followed with run-scoring hits.
In the bottom of the first, GPC chipped away at the lead, Jerad Curry belting a two-run double to drive in Lindley and LaDonis Bryant, who had singled and walked.
Middle Georgia added a run in the third when Stroud walked and benefited from two wild pitches to cross the plate. Then the Jaguar bullpen gave the hitters a chance to catch up.
Michael Peele came on in relief and shut down the Knights, striking out five in 2 2/3 innings. Winning pitcher Williams (2-0) subsequently took the mound and threw two-hit ball for 3 1/3 innings, striking out one and walking none.
The Jaguars’ four-run, station-to-station rally off Will Jones (1-1) in the fifth knotted the game at 6-6. Bryant led off with a single; Curry reached on an error; Tyler Landmon, Charles Sheffield and Tyler Schwartz stroked consecutive RBI singles and pinch hitter Austin Simmons brought in the sixth run with a groundout.
Lindley’s lightning speed most likely intimidated center fielder Stroud’s three-base error in the eighth. Rounding first as the ball rolled toward Stroud, Lindley decided to stretch it into a double, probably distracting the excellent outfielder’s focus on scooping up the ball before making the throw to second base.
Third base coach Jeremy Brotherton waved Lindley on to home, even though the relay man had the ball as the speedster rounded the bag, a tribute to the coach’s faith in Lindley’s wheels.
“London has been exceptional for us all year,” Campbell said. “Not a lot of people know his story—he’s a guy who didn’t have a place to play out of high school but didn't give up on his dreams. He’s transformed himself into a potential major league draft pick. That tells you about his work ethic and toughness ... the way he was running right out of the box, on what looked like a routine single, won us a ball game.”
The first game was another classic in the annals of the decades-old rivalry between the two programs. The Jaguars also fell into a hole in that one as Middle ticked off four runs in the second inning. A leadoff double by Drew Kelley and a base hit by Taylor led to a run-scoring two-bagger by Lawless and a two-RBI single by Spencer Harvey.
Schwartz started the Jaguar comeback in the third, singling and scoring on Bryant’s double. Doubles by Matt Taylor and J.T. Phillips and a sacrifice fly by Schwartz brought in two more runs in the fourth.
Then the Jaguars produced the game-tying three-run rally in the fifth, featuring a leadoff hit by Lindley, an RBI single by Phillips and a two-run single by Landmon.
But winning pitcher Justin Flores (3-1) threw six strong innings in relief, giving up a lone hit, walking three and fanning five Jaguars.
The Knights nailed down the win in the 10th without a hit. Spencer Duffie was hit by a pitch and scored the eventual game-winner by stealing second and advancing to third and home on an error and a wild pitch. Joe Marlow (5-1), winner of GPC’s victory Tuesday at Middle, absorbed the loss.
Photo Credit: Gerald Moulder, glmoulder.com