To say that the Chapin and A.C. Flora baseball teams are familiar foes is an understatement of the highest degree.
Last season, the Eagles and Falcons squared off four times. Chapin swept the Region 4-3A series during the regular season, but beat the Falcons in the district final round winning the decisive second game of the doubleheader in the finale after ACF took the opener.
This year, the teams split during the regular season, this time during the Region 5-3A pennant race. Chapin’s 4-2 win at home in its last game of the regular campaign secured a region championship and relegated the Falcons to the region No. 3 playoff seed and a spot in the same district tournament as the Eagles.
Fittingly, the teams won their respective playoff openers and meet in the second round at Chapin. This time, the Falcons prevailed 6-1. The pitching match-up was a rematch of the same as on April 21. This time, Flora southpaw Player Loving was the winner against Eagles ace Cole Lee, who suffered his first loss of the season.
The result: a reversal of the situation a year ago. This time Chapin hits the road facing the daunting challenge of winning two games to keep playing.
“We know how difficult it is to beat Flora twice at their place,” said veteran Chapin coach Scott McLeod. “I think we have the pitching depth to compete in two games, so I really think it’s going to come down to whether we can hit and catch the ball enough.”
Falcons coach Andy Hallett has an interesting dilemma as far as his pitching choice goes. Does he opt to go with his best to try and finish the job quickly, or hold Loving out with the hope that his team came win the first game without him? In that scenario, Loving would be set for the Lower State opener on Friday or Saturday.
Chapin (18-6) stayed alive with a 9-5 win over Wilson on Monday, going with a number of young pitchers to get the job done. Wilson scored three runs in the top of the first inning, but the Eagles answered with four in the bottom half. Cole Morris and Nick Beline were the big producers. Morris went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Beline had two hits and two RBIs.
Flora (16-9) is looking to avoid a failed title bid in the district finals for the third year in a row. The Falcons won six straight district championships between 2003 and 2008 slipping a bit, relatively speaking, in recent years.