Tournaments | Story | 6/11/2019

Lovett clutch for HP Chilidogs

Cory Van Dyke        
Photo: Jett Lovett (Perfect Game)

MARIETTA, Ga. -- Bases loaded, two outs, and trailing by two runs in the top of the seventh. That was the position Jett Lovett found himself in as he stepped to the plate for Home Plate Chilidogs 16u Argila

What happened next was one of those moments that you dream of as Lovett smoked a bases clearing triple, coming within feet of a home run to right-center field to give his team a 6-5 lead. 

“My approach was to just get a pitch I could handle,” said Lovett, who finished 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBIs. “Went 2-0 and then he left one right down the middle. I did what I could with it.”

It was an advantage that Home Plate would not relinquish en route to the 7-5 triumph over 643 DP Cougars 16u Sterling to advance to the semifinals of the 2019 WWBA 16u National Championship Qualifier. 

“Two outs in the last inning, Jett hits that ball,” coach Aaron Mizell said. “That’s what you live for. That’s when you’re playing wiffle ball in the yard. That’s the one that you think about and envision in your head. Today he was five feet from hitting a grand slam. That was awesome. That’s what you play for for sure.”

Chay Yeager followed Lovett’s clutch hit by uncorking a double to the fence to extend the lead to 7-5. Home Plate took the field in the bottom of the inning needing three outs and called upon Lovett, the player who put the team ahead just minutes earlier.

It felt like deja vu, except the roles were reversed as Lovett found himself as the hurler on the mound with the bases loaded, two outs, and a two-run lead. Again, ice in the veins for Lovett and Home Plate. 

Second baseman Garrett Carter snared a line drive with a diving catch to save the tying runs from scoring and clinch a berth to the 16u WWBA with this guaranteed top four finish.

“It was just reaction,” said Carter, who finished 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI.

A succinct answer from the player who has carried a big stick all week long for Home Plate at the dish. Carter is now a scorching 11-for-20 (.550 average) with three doubles, a triple, and five RBIs.

“I’m just going up there swinging and trying to work 0-0 counts,” Carter said. “That’s usually first pitch fastball and I tee off on that.”

643 DP Cougars took a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning after a huge four-run inning that seemingly deflated life from Home Plate at the time. However, Home Plate responded with two runs in the sixth before the big four spot of their own in the top of the seventh. 

In the seventh, Braxton Roop walked with one out. Then, Jake Willis reached on an error and Daniel Courtney singled with two outs, setting the scene for Lovett’s big hit.

“They never give up,” Mizell said. “We have a bunch of grinders. They’re good kids who like to work hard, have fun, and play the game the right way. That was a group effort. Obviously Jett comes up with the big hit there and closes it out. Garrett with the great play at the end, but there were guys on base for Jett to do that, period. That says a lot about us not giving up at all.”

For Home Plate, the victory capped off a long day at the diamond, as the team won three straight games on the day. It started with a 2-1 win over Slammers Baseball 16U Laudick to finish second in the pool and earn a position in the playoff round.

“After we got the shot to go to bracket play, it just kind of just kicked in,” Carter said. “There’s no stopping now.”

Home Plate defeated East Cobb Sun Devils 16u in the first round of the playoffs by the score of 6-3, setting the matchup with 643 DP Cougars. 643 entered as the No. 1 overall seed of the tournament, not allowing a single run in pool play. That didn’t stop Home Plate from lacing 11 hits and seven runs.

“It feels good because I felt like going into the game we were the underdog,” Lovett said. “Nobody really thought we could win. Coming out with a win was huge and a huge confidence boost for our team.”

Pressure produces diamonds, and on Tuesday it produced a gutsy, hard-fought win for Lovett and Co. Now all that separates Home Plate and the WWBA National Championship Qualifier championship is two wins on Wednesday.

“You get consecutive wins going and you feel good baseball being played,” Mizell said. “Things start falling your way and the guys are having fun. The pieces start working together for sure. 

“We’re going to need another quality group effort to keep the momentum rolling and I think we’ll be in a good position to win.”

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