VALDOSTA --With region play one week away, Lowndes High baseball got a lesson on not quitting Tuesday against Madison County (Fla.) High. They passed that test with flying colors.
Then the Vikings got a lesson on how to finish a game. They didn't do so well in that category.
Lowndes fought out of a 6-0 second-inning hole, tied the game at 8-all, and then lost 9-8 to Madison Tuesday at Noel George Field.
"Tough loss," Vikings' head coach Danny Redshaw said. "Some bonehead baserunning, not knowing signals, not knowing what to do on plays.
"There were a lot of bright spots, too. We swung the bats pretty decent. We had a couple clutch hits."
Madison came out swinging in the second inning, taking an early 2-0 lead on Vikings starting pitcher Clay Hamm. Hamm loaded the bases with two outs and then the Cowboys' Lucas Rutherford cleared the pads with a grand slam to left field. Hamm, who lost his first game of the season, left after 1.2 innings of work, having allowed six earned runs and seven hits.
"That bunch can swings some bats," Redshaw said. "Give them credit."
Down 6-0 after the Cowboys' half of the second, Lowndes (4-7) fought back. After a leadoff double, Matt Harper scored on Kalen Grant's grounder that was booted by Madison's second baseman. Caleb Hutchinson scored on Cowboys pitcher Bruce Williams' balk, then Grant came home on a wild pitch to cut into Madison's lead.
Bo Love trimmed the Cowboys' lead to 6-4 when he scored on another Williams wild pitch.
For the next three innings, Vikings relief pitcher Brandon Waller came in and cooled off the Cowboys' bats, while Lowndes pulled to within 6-5 on Hutchinson's RBI double to right in the bottom of the fifth.
"Brandon Waller came in and threw well," Redshaw said. "We were down big early and didn't quit."
Waller was pulled in the sixth after allowing two runners to reach base to start the inning. Brandon Smith entered and was rudely greeting by Brian Bass' two-run double to center, giving the Cowboys an 8-5 lead.
Once again, the Vikings came back in the sixth, loading the bases with no outs. Jacob Jarvis' check-swing single drove in Jake Summers, and Love and Ryan Carpenter scored on wild pitches to tie the game at 8-8.
Lorenzo Cain's sacrifice fly scored Richie Sowell, who was walked by reliever Matt Harper to lead off the seventh inning, giving the Cowboys a 9-8 lead.
Cowboys pitcher Jeremy Haynes struck out the Vikings' side in the bottom half of the seventh to end the game.
"If we want to be playing in May, we've got to learn to beat teams like (Madison)," Redshaw said. "That's a good baseball team. We had several chances to win and just didn't do it."
Harper went 3-for-4 at the plate for the Vikings. Hutchinson and Jarvis each went 1-for-3 with a RBI.
Bass went 2-for-3 with two RBI and Sowell was 2-for-3 with a RBI to lead Madison (10-3).
Lowndes plays its final non-region game at noon Saturday against Walker Valley (Tenn.) High on Noel George Field.