Carson Maloney executed a squeeze bunt in the bottom of the seventh inning and the Grace Christian Academy dugout and fans exploded in celebration Wednesday night at Trevecca Nazarene in Nashville.
GCA clinched the Region 4-A baseball championship for the second season in a row with the 8-7 walk-off victory over Eagleville. The Lions will host Monterey Friday in the Class A Sectional round with the winner heading to next week’s state tournament.
Kitch Cash went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run in the second. He scored two runs as well. Carson Ford added a 2-for-3 performance at the plate with two more runs scored. GCA out-hit Eagleville 9-7.
Baseball wins on squeeze bunt by Maloney!!!!!! 8-7!— GCA Lions Sports (@GCALionsSports) May 16, 2019
The Lions forfeited the 2-0 advantage early by surrendering three runs in the top of the third thanks to a pair of errors. Two more errors plated two more runs in the fourth as Eagleville built a 5-2 lead.
GCA loaded the based in the bottom of the fourth as Luke Gill and Brock Arender both drove in runs to knot the game at 5-5 and regained the lead in the fifth when Austin Kasick was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Gill earned a walk on the next at bat.
Eagleville drew back-to-back walks to open the sixth and Ryan Wells singled to pull his team within 7-6. Despite grounding out into a double play, Caleb Holdcraft drove in the tying run before the inning ended at the next at-bat on another ground out.
Ford singled to open the bottom of the seventh and Baylor Jones reached on an error. Cash advanced both runners with a single to third to load the bases. Kasick popped up for the first out to set up Maloney’s game-winning bunt. Maloney’s hit came on a 2-2 count.
On Monday, GCA extended its season with a 6-2 win over Cornersville. The Bulldogs closed the season 24-7-1 overall, losing four of their final six games.
The Lions ended the regular season dropping seven of eight games, but can reach the state tournament for the first time with a win Friday against Monterey.
The Wildcats fell at Gordonsville 16-4 in the Region 3-A championship Wednesday. Monterey, which enters 27-6 overall, dropped a 3-2 decision to Gordonsville last week in the District 6-A championship and advanced to the region final with a 11-2 elimination win over South Pittsburg.
GCA has reached the sectional round three of the last four seasons. They fell to Gordonsville last year and lost to Forrest in 2016.