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Loper’s walk-off sends Lafayette to the Class 5A North Half series

Lafayette entered Friday with a chance to advance to the north half championship for a second straight season but needed late-game heroics to win after letting their early lead slip late in the game.

The Commodores defeated the Ridgeland Titans 3-2 to advance to the north half championship with a walk-off single from Blake Loper.

Lafayette scored in the first inning when Loper hit a single to center field to score Tyrus Williams. This score would hold until the top of the fifth inning when Ridgeland would score after three bunt singles and defensive miscues by the Commodores.

The Titans would take the lead in the top of the sixth inning after a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to make the score 2-1.  With two outs and a runner on third, the Commodores tied it up with a Triple by Carter Newman that got past the diving center fielder in the bottom of the sixth.

The Commodores would load the bases in the bottom of the seventh after an error, hit by pitch, and a single to set the table Loper, who hit a line drive back up the middle to walk it off for the Commodores.

“Blake Loper was the offensive story tonight,” said Lafayette head coach John Walker. “He was the story on the mound (Thursday) night in Ridgeland, and he is the story tonight, too. He has had a great series.”

Wilson Varner was the starting pitcher for the Commodores and threw a complete game. The ICC commit gave up two runs, two of them earned on nine hits in seven innings pitched. He did not walk a single batter and had six strikeouts on the night.

“To win a game, especially a playoff game when you do not play your best, you can use this as a program and team to build on,” Walker said. “When it’s late in the game, and you know you did not play well, you can find a way to win. We are a tough group and we had our backs against the wall twice tonight and we battled out of it. Carter Newman had a great hit that got past the center
fielder, and we put pressure on their defense in the seventh, and Blake walked it off.”

The Commodores turned three double plays on the night and had nine hits on the night. Varner, Taylor Tarver, Everett Thompson, and Cooper Mitze each had a hit for the Commodores, while Newman and Loper had multiple hits.

Lafayette will return to action next week for the North Half Championship against Saltillo or Center Hill. The Saltillo and Center Hill series is tied heading into Saturday’s deciding Game 3. Lafayette will have a home-field advantage for the North Half championship series when it begins on Thursday.

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