By MATTHEW BROWN
Journal Sports Writer
Credit Veterans High baseball coach David Coffey for sticking to his plan. He has a No. 1 starting pitcher who stays his No. 1 starter no matter what.
Even after a pair of outings marred by control problems, Lyndon Meadows got the baseball for Friday’s start against Howard High at home. In the battle of the Region 2-AAA second-place Warhawks and third-place Howard from Macon, the senior sidearmer threw five one-hit shutout innings with hardly any of the issues from games against Perry or Westside.
Five innings was all Coffey needed out of Meadows, for the Veterans offense scored seven two-out runs in obliterating the Huskies’ pitching by an 11-0 score. It was the team’s sixth win in a row.
“Baseball’s a game that’s all about timely hitting,” said Coffey, who saw 10 Warhawks reach base in two-out situations Friday. “We were fortunate enough to get the timely hits. Our approach as a team at the plate was very good against two quality pitchers for Howard. I can’t say enough about our hitters.”
Meadows’ 2012 season includes a 10-strikeout performance while allowing three runs in a 5-3 win against Mary Persons at home. He fanned six in a row back then before giving up all three runs to the Bulldogs in the third.
Veterans won his starts at Perry and at home versus the Westside Seminoles, but control issues that came up in one inning put the Warhawks behind and set up big comebacks at the plate.
“Lyndon and I had a little chat before the (Howard) game that no matter what happened, he was going to refocus and come back into what he should do,” said Coffey. “In the game (Friday) he had a little bit of adversity, a couple of wild pitches. But he did exactly what he promised me. He took a step back and did what Lyndon Meadows can do.”
And it wasn’t a difficult decision for the coach in keeping his rotation, one that has built an 11-1 2-AAA record, in tact.
“Lyndon’s my No. 1. He’s going to be my No. 1,” he said. “It’s just a matter of him knowing he can by my No. 1.”
The sinking motion of Meadows’ pitches were well evident as he struck out the side in order to start the contest. In all, he whiffed six of the Howard hitters. The lone hit came with two outs in the top of the third, and there were two walks (as opposed to six in four-plus innings the week before in the Westside game) and one hit batter.
How did Meadows deal with one of his walks? He grabbed a grounder at the mound and began a 1-6-3 double play in the top of the fifth.
Howard put a runner on third base with its one hit, but it was third baseman Keaton Allen running towards the mound to take a grounder and record the final out.
Veterans’ offensive damage was spread out with three runs in the first, five in the second and three in the bottom of the fifth. Ben Williams, the designated hitter who had a home run, triple for five RBI against Westside, belted a three-run home run to end the game.
Howard’s defense had a tough time with five errors to compound the 11 hits by the Warhawks.
Blake Jackson was on base with a single in the home first, and there were two outs when catcher Micah Wells executed the hit-and-run. Zach Johnson took advantage of a bobbled ball at third base to beat out the throw, and Jackson touched home.
Allen drove a double into the left-field corner for two RBI and a 3-0 Warhawk lead.
Veterans sent 11 batters to the plate in the home second, and four of the five runs were produced with two outs.
Mickey Dugan reached base twice in that frame alone, leading off with an infield hit and later walking with the bases loaded.
Zane Conlon followed Dugan’s hit by reaching on an error. Both were in scoring position for Jackson, who blooped an RBI hit into shallow center.
But two outs were just where the Warhawks wanted the Huskies. Wells’ hard single on the ground drove in one, as did Johnson’s opposite-field hit and Allen’s single to left for his third RBI.
Howard actually committed two errors and gave up Wells’ third hit – a double – while keeping the score 8-0 in the third inning. Even with the miscues, the Huskies turned two 6-3 double plays in the game.
Prior to the Williams home run, Conlon led off the inning with a hit and Howard messed up just getting one out on a potential double-play ball.
“Our goal right now is to be region champs,” said Coffey about the mindset for the season’s final eight games, six in 2-AAA. “We still have another opportunity against (first-place) West Laurens (April 17 on the road). But first things first.”
That includes a non-region home game on Thursday against Hawkinsville.
Perry High is back in a three-way tie with Howard and Mary Persons for third place in Region 2-AAA, all at 8-4. The Panthers scored seven runs in the first inning Friday and held on to beat Baldwin 12-5 at home.
Jake Farrell had three hits – two being doubles – and four RBI. Nick Martens had two hits, one a double, and J.W. Gentry drove in three runs on two hits.
Myles Sowell pitched the complete-game win with four strikeouts, six hits and two walks allowed.
The Demons suffered a fourth-straight loss Friday, letting a four-run lead get away at Hardaway High. It was 5-1 after two innings, but the Hawks put up five in a row to win 6-5.
Warner Robins had just four hits in the 1-AAAA contest. Michael Lee had a double and two RBI.